Background: To study the effects of two different structured shared care interventions, tailored to local needs and resources, in an unselected patient population with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Methods: A three-year prospective observational study of two interventions and standard care. The interventions involved extensive (A) or limited (B) task delegation from general practitioners to hospital-liaised nurses specialised in diabetes and included a diabetes register, structured recall, facilitated generalist-specialist communication, audit and feedback, patient-specific reminders, and emphasised patient education. The target population consisted of 2660 patients with type 2 diabetes treated in the primary care setting. Patients who were terminally ill or who had been diagnosed with dementia were excluded from the study.
Results: The participation rates were high (90%) for patients, and none of the 64 GPs discontinued their participation in the study. Longitudinal analyses showed significant improvements in quality indicators for both intervention groups (process parameters and achieved target values on the individual patient level); in standard care, performance remained stable or deteriorated. Both patients and caregivers appeared satisfied with the project.
Conclusion: This study shows that structured shared care with task delegation to nurses, targeted at a large unselected general practice population, is feasible and can positively affect the quality of care for patients with type 2 diabetes.