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Diabetes patients 'misunderstand' self test readings


Type 2 diabetes patients who self-monitor blood glucose levels at home often misunderstand the significance of high readings and how to react to them, warn researchers in Scotland.

They said the lack of knowledge was “surprising” and that patients needed more education.

Stirling University researchers interviewed 207 type 2 diabetes patients to find out how they self-monitored their HbA1c levels.

They found over 60% of patients took no action in response to test readings, the majority stating they did not know what action to take. In addition, they said 68% of patients perceived a high reading to be 10mmol/l or above.

Lead author Josie Evans, senior lecturer in public health at the university’s school of nursing, midwifery and health, said: “Most people said a high reading was 10 or above when ideally, patients’ blood glucose levels should be less than 7.

“I was surprised to learn the extent of misunderstandings over high readings,” she said.

Patients usually knew what to do if they had a low HbA1c reading, according to Dr Evans, but found it “very frustrating if they have a high reading as they are unsure what to do about it”.

“There is no point in patients self-monitoring unless they are educated in how to interpret readings and to respond appropriately,” she added.

Dr Evans will present the study findings to a Scottish School of Primary Care conference in Glasgow next month. The research was funded by the Scottish government’s Chief Scientist Office.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Little One

    When on my community placement I went to see a gentleman who's blood sugar, every day, was over 18 at the lowest. On the very frequent days when his blood sugar was over 20, or even just read "HI" on his BM monitor, he used to say "Lovely, that means I'll have a good day!". No matter what you said to him, or how often you told him that his insulin dose needed changing we were only there to support him taking his BM and inject his insulin, he would set it to the same amount of units every day, even after it had been changed to try and combat his high BMs, because he was happy like that and said that any lower than 15mmol/l and he felt "funny" and "didn't like it". Only so much you can do, couldn't force him to take a higher dose of insulin.

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  • I think the language in this article is misleading - diabetic patients do not monitor their own HbA1c levels - they may be measuring their blood glucose level if their GP still allows them to have blood-testing equipment (which many do not).

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  • Daverk

    Are these notes/lectures being made available?

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