Systemic barriers to diabetes management in primary care: a qualitative analysis of Delaware physicians

Am J Med Qual. Jul-Aug 2011;26(4):284-90. doi: 10.1177/1062860610383332. Epub 2011 Mar 10.


Primary care providers deliver the majority of care for patients with diabetes. This article presents a qualitative analysis of systemic barriers to primary care diabetes management in the small office setting in Delaware. Grounded theory was used to identify key themes of focus group discussions with 25 Delaware physicians. A total of 6 systemic barriers were identified: (1) a persistent orientation toward acute care; (2) an inability to provide proactive, population-based patient management; (3) an inability to provide adequate self-management education; (4) poor integration of payer-driven disease management activities; (5) lack of universally available clinical information; and (6) lack of public health support. The results suggest that significant systemic barriers limit the ability of primary care providers, particularly those in small practices, to effectively manage diabetes in current practice. Future primary care reform should consider how to support providers, particularly those in small practices, to overcome these barriers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delaware
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Primary Health Care*