Insulin in general practice - barriers and enablers for timely initiation

Aust Fam Physician. 2011 Aug;40(8):617-21.


Background: Insulin is effective at lowering blood glucose, and most people with type 2 diabetes need insulin within 10 years of diagnosis. However, initiating insulin is often delayed in general practice. This study explores barriers and enablers to insulin initiation in general practice.

Method: A qualitative study using semistructured, in-depth interviews. Ten general practitioners, four diabetes nurse educators and 12 patients were interviewed. Participants were purposively selected and recruited through snowballing. Data analysis drew on the Normalisation Process Model framework.

Results: The understanding of the primary aim of diabetes care and its context (improving pathophysiology, complex multimorbidity, the patient-doctor relationship, impact of living with the condition) was important. There was disagreement and uncertainty about whose role it is to initiate insulin. It was also important whether insulin initiation was conceptualised as a simple, protocol driven intervention, or as a complex and demanding addition to an overwhelming clinical picture.

Discussion: Insulin initiation seems more likely if the multiple perspectives on the primary aim of clinical care are acknowledged, and if roles are explicitly discussed and clarified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Decision Making
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • General Practice
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Nurse's Role
  • Physician's Role
  • Qualitative Research
  • Time Factors


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin