AADE Survey: Taking Insulin Is a Hardship on Many—and They’re Reluctant to Talk About It With Caregivers

More than 29 percent of the people surveyed feel that injecting insulin is the hardest aspect of their diabetes care.

Aug 15, 2008

Results from a Harris survey commissioned by the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) show that people with diabetes who must take insulin often struggle with dread and negative impacts on their lives because of it. But more than half of them—52 percent—are reluctant to share their concerns with their healthcare providers.

The “Injection Impact Report” survey, which was conducted online between June 12 and July 7, surveyed 502 people with diabetes who inject insulin using either a syringe or a pen. The survey also queried healthcare professionals who treat people with diabetes who inject insulin, including 101 primary care physicians (PCPs), 100 endocrinologists, and 100 diabetes educators.

Among the findings:

  • 33 percent of respondents have experienced some level of dread related to insulin injections (eight percent strongly agreed/and 25 percent somewhat agreed)
  • 14 percent of those surveyed feel that insulin injections have a negative impact on their life (three percent experience a major negative impact and 11 percent experience a moderate negative impact)
  • More than 29 percent of the people surveyed feel that injecting insulin is the hardest aspect of their diabetes care (eight percent strongly agreed and 21 percent somewhat agreed).
  • 52 percent do not proactively discuss their concerns regarding the physical and emotional aspects of injecting with their healthcare provider.

Thirty-seven percent of the respondents with diabetes felt that discussing their concerns about insulin would be a bother to their healthcare providers. However, says the AADE, the survey of healthcare professionals, which included PCPs, endocrinologists, and diabetes educators, told a different story: Seventy-one percent said they are aware of the impact that insulin injections have on their patients' quality of life, and 40 percent have initiated a dialogue in the past with their patients about these issues.

“When developing the survey, we had two goals in mind,” said Amparo Gonzalez, RN, BSN, CDE, president of the AADE. “The first was to encourage patients to take a more proactive role in communicating with their healthcare team about their concerns regarding insulin injections. The second was to dispel the myth that healthcare providers were unaware of or were unwilling to address the quality of life issues surrounding insulin injections.”

“I am not surprised that many people with diabetes are not talking with the doctors or diabetes educators about their injections,” said Debra Lofton, a member of the Injection Impact Report Discussion Group that the AADE created in response to the survey. Lofton takes insulin injections for her diabetes.

“For years I skipped meals or injections to avoid the hassle and discomfort of taking them, but when it came to talking with my doctor about it, I did not speak up as much as I could have. When I did finally talk to my diabetes educator about my injections, I learned there were other, less painful ways to manage my diabetes effectively. I am so happy I finally said something.”

The AADE has more information in the Injection Impact Report online.

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