Can diabetes management be safely transferred to practice nurses in a primary care setting? A randomised controlled trial

J Clin Nurs. 2011 May;20(9-10):1264-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2010.03562.x. Epub 2011 Mar 15.


Aims and objectives: To determine whether the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus in a primary care setting can be safely transferred to practice nurses.

Background: Because of the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus and the burden of caring for individual patients, the demand type 2 diabetes mellitus patients place on primary health care resources has become overwhelming.

Design: Randomised controlled trial.

Methods: The patients in the intervention group were cared for by practice nurses who treated glucose levels, blood pressure and lipid profile according to a specified protocol. The control group received conventional care from a general practitioner. The primary outcome measure was the mean decrease seen in glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels at the end of the follow-up period (14 months).

Results: A total of 230 patients was randomised with 206 completing the study. The between-group differences with respect to reduction in HbA1c, blood pressure and lipid profile were not significant. Blood pressure decreased significantly in both groups; 7.4/3.2 mm Hg in the intervention group and 5.6/1.0 mm Hg in the control group. In both groups, more patients met the target values goals for lipid profile compared to baseline. In the intervention group, there was some deterioration in the health-related quality of life and an increase in diabetes-related symptoms. Patients being treated by a practice nurse were more satisfied with their treatment than those being treated by a general practitioner.

Conclusion: Practice nurses achieved results, which were comparable to those achieved by a general practitioner with respect to clinical parameters with better patient satisfaction.

Relevance to clinical practice: This study shows that diabetes management in primary care can be safely transferred to practice nurses.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / nursing*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Workforce


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A