Diabetic retinopathy screening in patients with diabetes mellitus in primary care: Incentives and barriers to screening attendance

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2012 Apr;96(1):10-6. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2011.11.003. Epub 2011 Dec 3.


Aim: Although diabetic retinopathy (DR) screening is a basic component of diabetes care, uptake of screening programs is less than optimal. Because attendance rates and reasons for non-attendance in an unselected diabetes population are unknown, this study examines incentives and barriers to attend DR-screening.

Method: Four focus groups provided patient-related themes concerning individual decision-making regarding attendance at DR-screening. A questionnaire measuring attendance rates and the influence of several factors was sent to 3236 diabetes patients (>18 years) in 20 Dutch general practices, of which 2363 (73%) responded.

Results: In the past 3 years, 81% of the patients had attended DR-screening. Patients not attending had lower levels of education, a more recent diagnosis of diabetes, and less frequently used insulin. There was no difference in DM types 1 and 2 patients regarding attendance. Patients attending more often visited health-care providers. Patients reported 'knowledge of detrimental effects of DR on visual acuity', 'sense of duty' and 'fear of impaired vision' as main incentives. The main barrier was the absence of a recommendation by the health-care provider.

Conclusion: Knowledge about detrimental effects of DR on visual acuity and recommendation by health-care providers are important, possibly modifiable, factors in the attendance to DR screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Primary Health Care