How do patients with type 2 diabetes perceive their disease? Insights from the French DIABASIS survey

Diabetes Metab. 2009 Jun;35(3):220-7. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2009.02.001. Epub 2009 Mar 19.


Aim: The main purpose of this survey was to describe type 2 diabetes (T2DM) from the patient's standpoint in a representative French panel in 2008.

Methods: Fourteen thousand two hundred and one individuals from the general population aged 45 or older completed a self-questionnaire exploring knowledge about diabetes; 1092 replies were from patients with T2DM.

Results: The prevalence of T2DM in this population was 7.7%, with demographics as follows: 60% men; mean age: 66 years; mean age at diagnosis: 55 years; mean BMI: 29 kg/m(2). Eighty-five percent of T2DM patients reported that they wanted more information about at least one aspect of the disease at diagnosis; they reported feeling anxious (30%), frightened (13%), angry (4%) or that the disease was unfair (12%). Half of the patients had modified their dietary habits but 71% found it difficult to engage in regular physical activity. Most patients (90%) were treated with drugs: 81% with oral antidiabetic drugs (OAD) (44% in monotherapy) while 19% received insulin (alone or in combination with OAD). Twenty-three percent complained of weight gain since start of current therapy (average gain of 7.3 kg). Insulin initiation represented a turning point for patients who became more aware of the disease severity, more willing to follow advice and to take greater control over their disease management. The mean time from diagnosis to insulin initiation was 13.8 years. Half of the patients perceived their disease as severe especially women, patients who initially reacted with anxiety, insulin-treated patients and those actively involved in their disease management. Some gender differences emerged: women took the disease more seriously, were more engaged in self-management, and reported a higher impact on daily life.

Conclusions: DIABASIS provides important information for diabetes care by highlighting patients' views of the disease, such as distress at diagnosis, lack of adequate information to cope with this distress and the important supportive role played by the family. A deeper understanding of patients' perception of the disease would help optimize customized care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy
  • Fear
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception*
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires