Purpose of study: To evaluate the 3-year impact of initiating basal insulin on glycaemic control (HbA1c) and weight gain in patients with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes registered with UK general practices that volunteered to participate in an insulin initiation training programme.
Methods: Audit utilising data collected from practice record systems, which included data at baseline, 3, 6 months and subsequent six-monthly intervals post-insulin initiation for up to 10 patients per participating practice.
Results: Of 115 eligible practices, 55 (47.8%) contributed data on a total of 516 patients. The mean improvement in HbA1c levels in the first 6 months was 1.4% (range -3.8% to 8.2%, median=1.40%). Thereafter, there was no overall change in HbA1c levels, although the change for individual patients ranged from -4.90% to +7.50%. At 36 months, 141 (41%) patients for whom data were provided had achieved the pre-2006/2007 UK Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) target of 7.4% or less, including 98 (29%) who had achieved an HbA1c of 7% or less. Patients who achieved target had a lower HbA1c at baseline (mean 9.1% compared to 9.7%; p<0.001); had a lower weight at 36 months (mean 88.0kg compared to 93.5kg; p=0.05); were more likely to be on basal insulin alone (88, 47.1% compared to 46, 34.6%; p<0.05); and were slightly older (mean 64.5 years compared to 61.7 years; p<0.05).
Conclusion: Attending an insulin initiation training programme may successfully prepare primary healthcare professionals to initiate insulin therapy as part of everyday practice for patients with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. The impact on glycaemic control is maintained over a 3-year period. Although intensification of treatment occurred during this period, the findings suggest scope for further intensification of insulin therapy in order to improve on the glycaemic control achieved during the first 6 months post-insulin initiation.