Fear of hypoglycaemia in patients with type 1 diabetes: Do patients and diabetologists feel the same way?

Service de diabétologie, maladies métaboliques et nutrition, hôpital Brabois, CHU de Nancy, 54511 Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France. Electronic address: .
Diabetes & Metabolism (Impact Factor: 3.27). 12/2012; 39(1). DOI: 10.1016/j.diabet.2012.10.006
Source: PubMed


This study described and compared the perception of hypoglycaemia in both patients with type 1 diabetes and diabetologists.

This was an observational cross-sectional study undertaken in France in 2011. Data for what hypoglycaemia represents and practices related to it were collected using a questionnaire completed by patients with type 1 diabetes (all>12 years of age) and their diabetologists. Agreement between patients and physicians was evaluated by the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and Gwet's coefficient (GC).

A total of 485 patients were enrolled by 118 diabetologists. Half the patients thought that hypoglycaemia was always symptomatic. According to both patients and diabetologists, hypoglycaemia impaired quality of life, caused anxiety and was disturbing, especially at night. Clinical symptoms of hypoglycaemia (sweating, shakiness, anxiety) were linked to patient's age and diabetes duration. Regarding hypoglycaemia frequency, agreement was good for severe hypoglycaemia (GC: 0.61 and 0.72 for diurnal and nocturnal hypoglycaemia, respectively) and poor for mild hypoglycaemia (ICC: 0.44 and 0.40, respectively). Diabetologists correctly evaluated the impact of hypoglycaemia on quality of life, but overestimated the hypoglycaemia-induced burden and anxiety. Counteractive behaviours were frequent: 23% of patients decreased their insulin dose, 20% increased their sugar intake and 12% ate extra snacks. Diabetologists were generally aware of these measures, but not of how often patients used them.

Diabetologists and patients do not share enough information about hypoglycaemia. Fear of hypoglycaemia and counteractive behaviours should be looked for by diabetologists. Systematic advice and specially adapted education should also be provided to increase patients' awareness of hypoglycaemia.

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Available from: E. Bertin, Nov 12, 2015
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    • "Nevertheless, these data still probably underestimate the reality of severe hypoglycaemia, as many cases are not diagnosed. Moreover, even the less severe forms may have consequences, at least in terms of quality of life and treatment adherence [5] [6]. The task is now to screen for hypoglycaemia in every patient during all medical consultations, while adopting attitudes that allow for more appropriate evaluations. "

    Diabetes & Metabolism 03/2015; 41(2). DOI:10.1016/j.diabet.2015.01.005 · 3.27 Impact Factor

  • JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 09/2013; 310(12):1235-6. DOI:10.1001/jama.2013.278576 · 35.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: To explore the experiences of people who have hypoglycaemia unawareness and its impact on their everyday lives. Methods: In-depth interviews with thirty-eight people with Type 1 diabetes who have hypoglycaemia unawareness. Data analysis used an inductive, thematic approach. Results: Participants reported imposed and self-imposed changes to their lives following onset of hypoglycaemia unawareness including: leaving employment, curtailing pastimes and spending more time at home or being supervised by others. However, some reported getting on with life by downplaying the significance and impact of their condition, which could put their health and safety at risk. Many relied on frequent self-monitoring of blood glucose and/or prompting from others to detect hypoglycaemia. Some expressed concerns about becoming a burden on family and/or responding in irrational and aggressive ways to others’ suggestions to test for and treat hypoglycaemia. Participants reported responding best to composed and directive prompts from family. Health professionals mainly advised on clinical aspects, and did not enquire about the emotional and psychosocial impact of hypoglycaemia unawareness. Discussion: Hypoglycaemia unawareness can have a profound impact on people’s confidence, careers and personal relationships. Healthcare professionals should pay more attention during consultations to the emotional and social aspects of living with hypoglycaemia unawareness.
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