Endocr Pract. 2019 May;25(5):461-469. doi: 10.4158/EP-2018-0405. Epub 2019 Jan 18.


Objective: This study evaluated whether there is a difference in the proportion of patients with type 2 diabetes who achieve a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) <7% within one year following treatment by an endocrinologist or primary care physician (PCP). Methods: We conducted a retrospective, propensity-matched study of patients with type 2 diabetes that were not optimally controlled and seen within our health system from 2007-2016. We assessed differences in short term health outcomes for patients following an endocrinologist visit compared to a PCP visit. Results: Patients seen by endocrinologists obtained HbA1c control at a faster rate (hazard ratio = 1.226; 95% confidence interval = 1.01 to 1.488) than those seen by a PCP. Furthermore, 34.5% and 29.5% of those treated by endocrinologists and PCPs, respectively, obtained HbA1c control by one year. Endocrinologists were more likely to prescribe a new medication class within 90 days than PCPs (14.1% versus 10.3%, respectively, P = .043). There was no difference in the risk of hospitalization between groups; 24.4% and 24.1% of those treated by endocrinologists and PCPs, respectively, were hospitalized within one year. Conclusion: Patients treated by endocrinology specialists were more likely to achieve a target HbA1c of <7% (53 mmol/mol) than those treated by PCPs in our health-care system. The performance difference may be partially explained by a higher rate of adding new classes of diabetes medications to the patient's pharmacologic regimens within 90 days by endocrinologists compared with PCPs. The long-term impact of these differences is unknown but has the potential to have an unfavorable impact on the health of the population. Abbreviations: ACP = American College of Physicians; CI = confidence interval; DUHS = Duke University Health System; HbA1c = hemoglobin A1c; HR = hazard ratio; PCP = primary care physician; SMD = standard mean difference.

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Endocrinologists*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A