Self-reported non-severe hypoglycaemic events in Europe

Diabet Med. 2014 Jan;31(1):92-101. doi: 10.1111/dme.12261. Epub 2013 Jul 26.


Aims: Hypoglycaemia presents a barrier to optimum diabetes management but data are limited on the frequency of hypoglycaemia incidents outside of clinical trials. The present study investigated the rates of self-reported non-severe hypoglycaemic events, hypoglycaemia awareness and physician discussion of events in people with Type 1 diabetes mellitus or insulin-treated Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Methods: People in seven European countries aged >15 years with Type 1 diabetes or insulin-treated Type 2 diabetes (basal-only, basal-bolus and other insulin regimens) were recruited via consumer panels, nurses, telephone recruitment and family referrals. Respondents completed four online questionnaires. The first questionnaire collected background information on demographics and hypoglycaemia-related behaviour, whilst all four questionnaires collected data on non-severe hypoglycaemic events in the preceding 7 days.

Results: Analysis was based on 11 440 respondent-weeks from 3827 respondents. All participants completed the first questionnaire and 57% completed all four. The mean number of events/respondent-week was 1.8 (Type 1 diabetes) and 0.4-0.7 (Type 2 diabetes, with different insulin treatments) corresponding to annual event rates of 94 and 21-36, respectively. A total of 63% of respondents with Type 1 diabetes and 49-64% of respondents with Type 2 diabetes, treated with different insulin regimens, who experienced hypoglycaemic events, reported impaired hypoglycaemia awareness or unawareness. A high proportion of respondents rarely or never informed their general practitioner/specialist about hypoglycaemia: 65% (Type 1 diabetes) and 50-59% (Type 2 diabetes). Overall, 16% of respondents with Type 1 diabetes and 26% of respondents with Type 2 diabetes reported not being asked about hypoglycaemia during routine appointments.

Conclusion: Non-severe hypoglycaemic events are common amongst people with Type 1 diabetes and insulin-treated Type 2 diabetes in real-world settings. Many rarely or never inform their general practitioner/specialist about their hypoglycaemia and the real burden of hypoglycaemia may be underestimated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / blood
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced
  • Hypoglycemia / epidemiology
  • Hypoglycemia / etiology*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Incidence
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Care*
  • Self Report*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin