Overcoming clinical inertia in insulin initiation in primary care for patients with type 2 diabetes: 24-month follow-up of the Stepping Up cluster randomised controlled trial

Prim Care Diabetes. 2017 Oct;11(5):474-481. doi: 10.1016/j.pcd.2017.06.005. Epub 2017 Jul 10.


Aim: To examine the two-year impact of Stepping Up, a general practice based model of care intervention for insulin initiation and titration in Australia.

Methods: 266 participants from 74 general practices participated in the Stepping Up cluster randomised controlled trial between 2012-2014. Control practices received training in the model of care on completion of the 12-month trial. Patients were followed for 24 months. Participant baseline characteristics, insulin and non-insulin medication use were summarised for each study group. Linear mixed-effects models with random intercepts were used to estimate differences in mean outcome (HbA1c and weight) between the study groups using restricted maximum likelihood estimation.

Results: At baseline 61% of patients were male, mean (SD) age 62 (10) years, diabetes duration 9 (5, 13) years and mean (95% CI) HbA1c was 8.9 (8.8-9.1)% (74 (73-76)mmol/mol) for both groups. There was a significant between group difference at 6 months which was sustained at 24 months; Mean (95% CI) HbA1c at 24 months in the intervention group was 7.6 (7.5-7.8)% (60 (58-62)mmol/mol) and 8.0 (7.7-8.4)% (64 (61-68)mmol/mol) in the control group. At 24 months 97 (71.3%) of the intervention group and 26 (31.0%) of the control group were prescribed insulin; there was no significant difference in weight. Use of non-insulin anti-hyperglycaemic agents was similar in both groups with the exception of dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors which were prescribed more frequently in the control group (30(36%) vs 21(16%)).

Conclusion: Stepping Up was associated with improved glycaemic control compared to usual care for 24 months, suggesting that the model facilitated more timely treatment intensification. Ongoing RN-CDE support may be needed to facilitate ongoing treatment intensification.

Keywords: Cohort study; General practice; Insulin; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Pragmatic Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • General Practice
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Insulin / administration & dosage*
  • Insulin / adverse effects
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Victoria


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human