Clinical inertia in the management of Type 2 diabetes metabolic risk factors

Diabet Med. 2004 Feb;21(2):150-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2004.01095.x.


Aims: Delays in the initiation and intensification of medical therapy may be one reason patients with diabetes do not reach evidence-based goals for metabolic control. We assessed intensification of medical therapy over time, comparing the management of hyperglycaemia, hypertension, and hyperlipidaemia.

Methods: Prospective cohort study of 598 adults with Type 2 diabetes receiving primary care in an academic medical centre from May 1997 to April 1999. We assessed whether patients failing to achieve standard treatment goals for haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), systolic blood pressure (SBP), or low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol when last measured during 12 months (Year 1, 5/97-4/98) had increases in their corresponding medical regimen during the following 12 months (Year 2, 5/98-4/99).

Results: Among untreated patients in Year 1, seven of 12 (58%) of those above goal for HbA1c were initiated on medical therapy in Year 2, compared with 16 of 48 (34%) above SBP goal (P=0.02) and 26 of 115 (23%) above LDL cholesterol goal (P=0.02). Among patients on therapy and above goal, 124 of 244 (51%) patients with elevated HbA1c had their regimen increased in Year 2, compared with 85 of 282 (30%) with elevated SBP (P<0.001) and 22 of 79 (30%) with elevated LDL cholesterol (P<0.001). From Year 1 to Year 2 there was a decline in the overall proportion of patients above goal for LDL cholesterol (from 58% to 45%, P=0.002) but not for HbA1c or blood pressure.

Conclusions: Greater initiation and intensification of pharmaceutical therapy, particularly for elevated blood pressure or cholesterol, may represent a specific opportunity to improve metabolic control in Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / drug therapy
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A