VCOM Research Day Program Book 2023

Medical Student Research Publ ic Health

05 Prevalence of Diabetes Mellitus in Nepali-Speaking Bhutanese Americans Living in Greater Harrisburg Area

B. Kadariya; N. Polam; S. Neupane; A. Wakeling; M. Wilson Corresponding author:

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Virginia Campus

Members of the Nepali-Speaking Bhutanese refugee community were resettled in the United States beginning in 2008 after previously being settled in a UN Refugee camp. Pennsylvania is the number one state for resettlement. Due to the recency of their resettlement, there has been little research regarding diabetes in the Nepali-Speaking Bhutanese American community. Diabetes is known to be correlated to diet and activity levels. There is speculation that rice consumption has increased in this population and people have acquired a more sedentary lifestyle while in the US compared to the refugee camps. This study sought to identify whether this community was at a higher risk for developing diabetes due to these lifestyle behavior changes. This study measures the prevalence of diabetes in the Nepali-Speaking Bhutanese American community and compares its prevalence with the general United States population. The format of the study was made to be easily accessible through a short survey that could be retrieved via a QR code. The survey was distributed to local Nepali businesses and organizations who further shared it with their patrons. The survey was available

in both English and Nepali and contained embedded audio recordings in Nepali for each question and answer choices. This was done to increase the survey’s accessibility among those who are unable to read the questions. The survey was open from November 1, 2022, to November 28, 2022. Of the 22 businesses contacted, 20 responded and 20 accepted. The survey yielded 81 responses from participants through this recruitment drive. Of the 81 responses, 25.93% reported having diabetes (n=21) and 74.07% responded they did not have diabetes (n=60). Rice consumption increased for 24.69 % of respondents (n=20), decreased for 43.21% respondents (n=35), and stayed the same for 32.1% respondents (n=26). Exercise increased for 12.35% respondents (n=10), decreased for 53.09% respondents (n=43), stayed the same for 32.1% respondents (n=26), and 2.47% respondents did not wish to answer the question (n=2). Results showed a 2.29 times higher prevalence of diabetes in the Bhutanese-Speaking Nepali population of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania compared to the general population of the United States. Results indicated a 37 times higher prevalence of diabetes

after resettlement compared to the population’s self-reported prevalence prior to resettlement in the United States. However, due to lack of diagnostic means in the refugee camps, there is a possibility for higher than reported prevalence prior to migration. These findings of higher prevalence of diabetes in this community provides justification for diabetes education around causes, symptoms, treatments as well as preventative healthcare methods. Greater awareness of the issue among the members of this community, as well as their healthcare providers, paves a path for future studies to identify all possible risk factors of diabetes in this community. Once risk factors are identified, early interventions and screening tools can be implemented to mitigate the onset of disease in this population in the future.


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