• Vol. 38 No. 6, 478–486
  • 15 June 2009

Understanding of Diabetes Mellitus and Health-preventive Behaviour Among Singaporeans

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: To study the understanding and perceived vulnerability of diabetes mellitus among Singapore residents, and determine the predictors associated with screening for diabetes mellitus among the people without the condition. Materials and Methods: A population-based survey was conducted from December 2004 to October 2005 involving Singapore residents aged 15 to 69 years. Using a standard questionnaire, Health Survey Officers interviewed household members on their understanding and perceived vulnerability of diabetes mellitus and associated cardiovascular risk factors. Data were analysed using SPSS v13. Results: The response rate was 84.5%. Of 2,632 respondents, 291 (11.1%) have diabetes mellitus. Compared to respondents without diabetes, respondents with the disease had better understanding of diabetes and they had favourable health practice of screening for cardiovascular risk factors. Having diabetes mellitus was not associated with a healthier lifestyle. Among non-diabetics, those who had a family history of diabetes had better knowledge and health practices than those who had not. They were significantly more likely to recognise the symptoms and signs (61.5% vs 54.5%) and the causes of diabetes (70% vs 58.2%); and were more likely to have ever tested for diabetes (76.1% vs 60.4%), with P <0.001. Socio-demographic characteristics, family history, understanding and perception on the vulnerability of diabetes were identified as predictors associated with health screening for the disease. Conclusion: Among all respondents, better understanding was found to be associated with favourable health-preventive behaviours. However, it did not translate into healthier lifestyle. Cultural and socio-demographic profiles must be factored in for any effort on lifestyle modifications.


The prevalence of diabetes mellitus is reaching epidemic levels worldwide.1,2 The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the number of people with diabetes mellitus is expected to rise from 171 million in 2000 to 366 million in 2030, as a result of population ageing and urbanisation.3 This will inevitably increase the proportions of death from cardiovascular diseases. In Singapore, diabetes mellitus is the 8th leading cause of death with 3% of all deaths being attributable to diabetes alone.

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