When oral agents fail: practical barriers to starting insulin

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 Sep;26 Suppl 3:S18-24. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802173.


Insulin therapy has proven benefits in Type 2 diabetes patients when combination therapy has failed. However, there is some reluctance by both patients and healthcare professionals to initiate insulin therapy. This reluctance has been termed 'psychological insulin resistance'. Barriers to the initiation of insulin therapy include patients' fear of disease progression and needle anxiety; mutual concerns about hypoglycaemia and weight gain; and health professionals' use of insulin as a threat to encourage compliance with earlier therapies. It is essential that these obstacles are identified and investigated as a means of overcoming these impediments to recommended levels of glycaemic control, an initiative being pursued by the DAWN study. Where concerns are tangible, such as fear of hypoglycaemia, therapeutic solutions can be pursued. Overcoming psychological barriers relies more on innovative management techniques. Improving insulin delivery to meet these needs, coupled with enhanced healthcare services, can address psychological insulin resistance and contribute to the maintenance of good metabolic control.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced
  • Hypoglycemia / prevention & control
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / adverse effects
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Needles
  • Treatment Failure*


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin