Background: Diabetes mellitus is a common disease in developed countries, but in Greece national figures on its prevalence are lacking.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to identify the burden of known diabetes mellitus through its estimation in the area of responsibility of the Spili Health Centre, based on the health information system that had been established in Primary Health Care in rural Crete.
Method: The diagnosis of diabetes was retrospectively documented by reviewing all medical records (n = 47151) at the Spili Health Centre and its five regional outposts during the period 1/6/1988-1/7/1993. The diagnostic criteria of WHO were used to establish the diagnosis.
Results: After excluding the patients who had died, we found 210 patients with diabetes mellitus. Thirty cases were evaluated with OGTT because of mild but not diagnostic elevations of fasting plasma glucose, on more than one occasion. The prevalence of diabetes after age and sex standardization of that for the European population was estimated at 1.52% (1.31% in males and 1.68 in females).
Conclusions: Our study shows that: 1) the role of the GPs and one appropriate information system in measuring the prevalence of known diabetes mellitus are now considered important within the Greek context; 2) diabetes mellitus seems not to be a rare disease in rural Crete. The estimated prevalence appears to be similar to the prevalence rates reported in other areas of rural Greece.