Coordinated primary and specialty care for type 2 diabetes mellitus, guidelines, and systems: an educational needs assessment

Endocr Pract. Nov-Dec 2011;17(6):880-90. doi: 10.4158/EP10398.OR.


Objective: To determine knowledge, competence, and attitudinal issues among primary care providers (PCPs) and diabetes specialists regarding the use and application of evidence-based clinical guidelines and the coordination of care between PCPs and diabetes specialists specifically related to referral practices for patients with diabetes.

Methods: A survey tool was completed by 491 PCPs and 249 diabetes specialists. Data were collected from specialists online and from PCP attendees at live symposia across the United States. Results were analyzed for frequency of response and evaluation of significant relationships among the variables.

Results: Suboptimal practice patterns and interprofessional communication as well as gaps in diabetes-related knowledge and processes were identified. PCPs reported a lack of clarity about who, PCP or specialist, should assume clinical responsibility for the management of diabetes after a specialty referral. PCPs were most likely to refer patients to diabetes specialists for management issues relating to insulin therapy and use of advanced treatment strategies, such as insulin pens and continuous glucose monitoring. A minority of PCPs and even fewer specialists reported the routine use of clinical guidelines in practice.

Conclusion: This research-based assessment identified critical educational needs and gaps related to coordinated care for patients with diabetes as well as the need for quality- and performance-based educational interventions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Endocrinology / education*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / adverse effects
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Internet
  • Needs Assessment
  • Physician's Role
  • Physicians, Primary Care / education*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Professional Competence
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Specialization*
  • United States


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin