Understanding of diabetes prevention studies: questionnaire survey of professionals in diabetes care

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Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

Diabetes prevention studies have reported reductions of diabetes risk by up to 60%. Since the underlying metabolic changes are small, the clinical significance of this effect may be overestimated. The present survey explores the extent to which different formats of presenting study results may influence diabetes healthcare professionals' perceptions of the importance of intervention effects on diabetes risk.

Subjects, materials and methods

Participants of three European diabetes conferences (160 nurse educators, 112 physicians, 27 other professionals) were presented with a questionnaire that included nine items, in which results from three diabetes prevention studies were presented in different ways.

Results

Participation rate was 96%. Effects were interpreted as important or very important by 92% (255/276) when results were presented as proportions of subjects with diabetes (14% intervention group, 29% control group), by 87% (248/285) when results were communicated as a risk reduction of 57%, by 39% (110/284) when the corresponding fasting plasma glucose values were presented (mean difference 0.3 mmol/l), and by 18% (52/283) when glycosylated haemoglobin values were used (6.0 vs 6.1%). Corresponding results of the three diabetes prevention studies were rated as being of identical importance by only 23, 13 and 16% of participants, respectively.

Conclusions and interpretation

Healthcare professionals rate the benefit of preventive interventions substantially higher when changes in diabetes risk are communicated rather than related glycaemic parameters. Transformation of continuous metabolic data into diagnostic categories may impair understanding of study effects.

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