Brief report: the burden of diabetes therapy: implications for the design of effective patient-centered treatment regimens

J Gen Intern Med. 2005 May;20(5):479-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2005.0117.x.


Background: Management of diabetes, and in particular blood glucose, can be complex and burdensome.

Objective: To evaluate patient views of the burdens of therapy and its impact on self-management.

Patients: Veteran patients with type 2 diabetes.

Design: Mailed survey.

Measurements: Patients described their views of the burden of diabetes treatments, adherence, and clinical and demographic status. Factors associated with ratings of burden and adherence to therapy were examined using multivariate regression methods.

Results: The response rate was 67% (n=1,653). Patients viewed pills as the least burdensome treatment and insulin as the most burdensome. Ratings of the burden of insulin were lower if a patient had prior experience with therapy. Adherence to prescribed therapy varied substantially; for example, patients followed medication recommendations more closely than other areas of self-management. Multivariate analyses showed that the main predictor of adherence was patients' ratings of the burden of therapy.

Conclusions: Injected insulin regimens are viewed as highly burdensome by patients, although this burden is attenuated by experience. Adherence to self-management is strongly and independently correlated with views of treatment burden. The burden of diabetes-related treatments may be a source of suboptimal glucose control seen in many care settings. Providers should consider the burden of treatment for a particular patient and its impact on adherence as part of a decision-making process to design effective treatment regimens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Veterans