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How much time does it take to manage type 2 diabetes?

A recent study from Germany offers some interesting insights

By Jennifer Halliday [1]


People with diabetes tell us that managing this condition can take a great deal of time, but until now there has been little research about this. In an exploratory study, Icks and Colleagues [2] surveyed more than 200 people with type 2 diabetes in Germany about their self-management activities in the past week. They found, on average, that participants spent 2.5 hours self-managing diabetes. Most participants spent time taking glucose lowering tablets (62% of participants), and checking blood pressure and glucose levels (51% and 47% respectively).

A number of characteristics were found to be associated with the amount of time spent on diabetes self-management. For example, participants who spent more time self-managing diabetes were more likely to: use insulin or oral glucose lowering tablets, report lower quality of life, have attended diabetes education, have a BMI in the obese category, have a higher HbA1c (48–57 mmol/mol (6.5–7.4%)), be married, and not smoke.

The average time spent self-managing type 2 diabetes (~2.5 hours per week) was lower in this study than in a previous study by the same authors [3] (~7 hours per week). The authors suggest this may be because the current study recruited from the general population, whilst their previous study recruited from specialist diabetes centres. Thus, the participants in the previous study may have experienced more severe impact of diabetes, have higher self-care needs and/or be choosing to use more intensive approaches to managing their diabetes.

The authors conclude by commenting that, in clinical practice, it is important to consider the time a person spends on their diabetes-self management activities, as it is likely to impact quality of life. They call for additional research into this area in the future.

Icks A, Haastert B, Arend W, Konein J, Thorand B, Holle Ret al. Time spent on self‐management by people with diabetes: results from the population‐based KORA survey in Germany.Diabet Med2019; 36: 970981.

(This paper featured in Diabetic Medicine’s ‘Special Issue’ on health economics, published August 2019)

To read more about quality of life, check out our previous blogs on this topic here [4]