Diabetes patients rank health concerns differently than their doctors, survey shows

Feb 02, 2010

About one-third of doctors and their patients with diabetes do not see eye to eye on the most important health conditions to manage, according to a survey by the University of Michigan Medical School.

While both groups frequently ranked diabetes and among their top concerns, 38 percent of doctors were more likely to rank hypertension as the most important, while only 18 percent of diabetics said it was the most important. Patients were also more likely to prioritize symptoms such as pain and depression.

The findings appear in the current issue of the and may shed light on why some patients manage their diabetes so poorly.

"If a patient and their doctor do not agree on which of these issues should be prioritized, it will be difficult for them to come up with an effective treatment plan together," says lead author Donna M. Zulman, M.D., a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Michigan Medical School and researcher at the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Ann Arbor.

When a diabetic patient visits the doctor, the doctor is often concerned about the patient's risk of long-term complications from or uncontrolled sugar such as or . The patient, however, might have more pressing issues, such as back pain or depression.

"Both sets of priorities are valid, however we know from previous studies that issues like pain interfere with a person's ability to manage their diabetes," Zulman says. "So putting these types of symptomatic problems on the back-burner might lead to worse outcomes in diabetes and other chronic conditions."

On average adults with diabetes have at least three other . It means their doctors face the challenge of addressing multiple complex conditions in a brief office visit.

Researchers at U-M and Veterans Affairs surveyed 92 doctors and their nearly 1,200 patients who had diabetes and hypertension. Of the 714 pairs, 28 percent did not prioritize health conditions the same way. The discord was strongest among the sickest patients.

"One possible explanation for this is that patients with poor health or competing demands may be more likely to face functional limitations, financial stress, and other barriers to care," she said. "For these patients, symptomatic problems might be of utmost importance because they exacerbate their existing challenges."

An estimated 18 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and another 5.7 million are undiagnosed. The number has nearly tripled since 1980 and people over age 65 account for 37 percent of all cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Explore further: Sierra Leone declares five-day Ebola lockdown in north

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Severe complications of diabetes higher in depressed patients

Jan 27, 2010

Depression raises risks of advanced and severe complications from diabetes, according to a prospective study of Group Health primary-care patients in western Washington. These complications include kidney failure or blindness, ...

Depression and diabetes: fellow travelers, researchers say

Jun 17, 2008

Researchers have long known that type-2 diabetes and depression often go hand in hand. However, it's been unclear which condition develops first in patients who end up with both. Now, a new study led by Johns Hopkins doctors ...

Minority health-care clinics separate but unequal

Feb 09, 2009

A study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine may shed new light on why minority Americans have poorer health outcomes from chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

Recommended for you

Firm recalls caramel apples amid listeria fears

2 hours ago

A Missouri firm is recalling its Happy Apple brand caramel apples because of the potential that they could be contaminated with listeria. The recall comes after at least three deaths and at least 29 illnesses in 10 states ...

Sierra Leone bans Christmas parties amid Ebola

15 hours ago

Alice Marke and her family aren't celebrating Christmas the way they used to: The deadly Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone means no festive parties at the beach, no carolers singing at night.

Fourth UN staff contracts Ebola in Liberia

17 hours ago

A fourth member of the UN mission in Liberia, the country hardest-hit by the Ebola epidemic, has been hospitalised after testing positive for the virus.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.