LARCHMONT, N.Y.--(BW HealthWire)--May 22, 2000--A survey published today in a leading diabetes professional publication revealed that diabetes specialists treat their own diabetes very differently from the average diabetes patient.
The study reveals a wide gap in the quality of care between the average diabetes patient and a doctor or nurse with diabetes.
The survey published in Diabetes Educator (May/June 2000), titled, "How Diabetes Specialists Treat Their Own Diabetes: Findings From a Study of the AADE and ADA Membership," was conducted by an independent research organization to study how diabetes specialists, who have diabetes, manage their own care. More than 50 percent of the doctors and nurses with diabetes reported using insulin pumps rather than traditional syringe therapy.
The survey reported healthcare professionals using insulin pump therapy is nearly ten times higher than the rate in which the average Type 1 diabetics use this treatment. The study concluded that better knowledge of the latest studies, past experience with controlling glycemic levels, and easier access to diabetes specialists contributed to the dramatic difference.
"This study proves a huge disconnect in the medical community. As doctors, we have the ability to give diabetes patients the power to keep themselves much healthier with the current standard of diabetes treatment," said Dr. Michael Perley, an endocrinologist with Type 1 diabetes.
"It is critical that healthcare systems and general practitioners, who treat most of the diabetics in this country, take steps to educate their patients about the importance of tight glycemic control and the various treatment options available to them including insulin pump therapy."
Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin dependent diabetes, affects approximately 1 million people in the United States. Most Type 1 diabetics are diagnosed as children or young adults. As an autoimmune disease, Type 1 diabetes leaves the body unable to produce insulin -- the hormone crucial for proper body functioning.
The insulin pump, about the size of a pager, is designed to function almost like the human pancreas, delivering insulin in small amounts throughout the day.
The benefits of insulin pump therapy include: improved blood sugar control during play, work or sleep, increased lifestyle flexibility and a lower risk of long-term complications including blindness and neuropathy, often resulting in amputation.
In the study, approximately 12,525 surveys were distributed to all professional members of the American Association of the Diabetes Educators (AADE) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), with instructions for the survey to be completed by only those individuals with diabetes. Of the 12,525 surveys, 802 were returned.
The prevalence of Type 1 diabetes in this sample was estimated to be higher than that of the general U.S. population. Of the respondents with Type 1 diabetes, 96 percent practiced intensive treatment regimens.
Intensive management is defined as three or more shots per day or use of an insulin pump. In the general population less than 25 percent of people with Type 1 diabetes practice intensive therapy.
The survey confirmed that diabetes specialists treat their own diabetes according to current standards of medical care as recommended by the American Diabetes Association -- with insulin pumps being the preferred method of insulin therapy for Type 1 diabetes in this sample. The study implies that the average diabetes patient and their doctors -- are unaware of the current standard of care in America.
"As a physician with Type 1 diabetes, I am an advocate of tight glycemic control and believe that insulin pump therapy should be the first line of treatment for this form of the disease," said Dr. Perley.
"This study proves that is incumbent upon the diabetic patient to communicate concerns about their disease and its effects on their life to their doctors and nurses. Hopefully, we can narrow the communications gap between doctor and patient."
Insulin pump therapy has been available since the 1980s as an optional treatment for Type 1 diabetes. MiniMed in Sylmar, California, is the leading insulin pump manufacturer in the United States. Insulin pumps are prescribed by a physician and are supported by comprehensive training for the patient by a skilled professional.