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Communication needed in diabetes treatment

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Communication about hypoglycaemia between healthcare professionals and patients with type 2 diabetes needs to be improved, the results of a survey suggest.

The results have been presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes’ annual meeting.

They show that three quarters of the 50 UK staff (74%) interviewed said they always asked the patients if they had experienced hypoglycaemia, caused by low blood glucose levels, since their last medical appointment but nine in 10 (92%) suspect that patients are not always forthcoming with the information.

Responses from patients support this perception.

The survey was carried out across five European countries for Merck Sharp & Dohme, the UK subsidiary of the US firm Merck.

Of the 82 type 2 diabetes patients involved in the survey in the UK, half say they do not regularly discuss the incidence of hypoglycaemia with their GP or other medical professional. However 88% of them said they have some degree of worry that they may experience it in future.

Around one third of UK patients say they believe hypoglycaemia to be inevitable because of their medication, so they rarely discuss it. Another third say they do not talk about it with a professional because they do not understand it.

Anthony Barnett, of the Birmingham-based Heart of England Foundation Trust, said: “It is up to us as healthcare professionals to open discussions, educate our patients and make it clear that they do not need to live in fear of hypoglycaemic events or their effects.”

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