Cost, outcomes, treatment pathways and challenges for diabetes care in Italy

Global Health. 2014 Jul 14;10:58. doi: 10.1186/1744-8603-10-58.


Background: In Italy both incidence and prevalence of diabetes are increasing and age at diagnosis is decreasing in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is one of the major causes of morbidity in Italy, causing several disabilities and affecting the economically active population. The objective of this paper is to identify and discuss costs, outcomes and some of the challenges of diabetes care in Italy in the context of recent policy changes.

Methods: The study collected data and evidence from both primary and secondary sources. A total of 10 experts, including clinicians (diabetologists/endocrinologists) and decision makers, both at national and regional levels, were interviewed through face-to-face semi-structured interviews. The secondary sources include peer review literature from Medline, grey literature, reports from national and international sources, including professional bodies and organizations.

Results: The total direct cost of diabetes for the Italian NHS in 2012 is estimated to be above €9 billion, of which more than half for hospital admissions (57%), and the remaining half for drugs (30%) and outpatient care (13%). However, there is scant evidence on indirect and intangible costs of diabetes in Italy. The quality of care addressed via the AMD Annals found overall good performance with both process and intermediate outcome indicators showing positive and improving results from 2004 to 2011, except for few parameters, including renal function and foot monitoring, which are still inadequate. Major challenges are the rising diabetes prevalence, the difficulty in meeting the rising demand for care and the scant development of multidisciplinary delivery of care, especially in the predominantly ambulatory setting of the Southern diabetes centres.

Conclusions: Prevention of diabetes, especially adopting a multi-sectorial approach, should be further empowered by policy makers through promoting healthy lifestyles and specifically targeting child obesity. Other key strategies include more information and education, better diabetes management through the adoption of a chronic model of care, more focus on appropriateness and efficiency of care and better communication between diabetes centres within every Region.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness*
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / economics
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / therapy
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospital Costs
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Health Care / standards
  • State Medicine / economics