Hypoglycemia: an overview of fear of hypoglycemia, quality-of-life, and impact on costs

J Med Econ. 2011;14(5):646-55. doi: 10.3111/13696998.2011.610852. Epub 2011 Aug 19.


Background: The clinical goal in the treatment of diabetes is to achieve good glycemic control. Tight glycemic control achieved with intensive glucose lowering treatment reduces the risk of long-term micro- and macro-vascular complications of diabetes, resulting in an improvement in quality-of-life for the patient and decreased healthcare costs. The positive impact of good glycemic control is, however, counterbalanced by the negative impact of an increased incidence of hypoglycemia.

Methods: A search of PubMed was conducted to identify published literature on the impact of hypoglycemia, both on patient quality-of-life and associated costs to the healthcare system and society.

Results: In people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, hypoglycemia is associated with a reduction in quality-of-life, increased fear and anxiety, reduced productivity, and increased healthcare costs. Fear of hypoglycemia may promote compensatory behaviors in order to avoid hypoglycemia, such as decreased insulin doses, resulting in poor glycemic control and an increased risk of serious health consequences. Every non-severe event may be associated with a utility loss in the range of 0.0033-0.0052 over 1 year, further contributing to the negative impact.

Limitations: This review is intended to provide an overview of hypoglycemia in diabetes and its impact on patients and society, and consequently it is not a comprehensive evaluation of all studies reporting hypoglycemic episodes.

Conclusion: To provide the best possible care for patients and a cost-effective treatment strategy for healthcare decision-makers, a treatment that provides good glycemic control with a limited risk of hypoglycemia would be a welcome addition to diabetes management options.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Fear*
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Hypoglycemia*
  • Quality of Life*