Understanding Diabetes Medications From the Perspective of Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: Prerequisite to Medication Concordance

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore diabetes medication experiences of patients with type 2 diabetes.

Methods

Study participants were recruited through newspaper advertisements and letters from primary and specialty clinics in Indianapolis, Indiana. The same professional facilitator conducted 18 focus groups (7 male, 11 female) at a Veteran Affairs facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. Participants were 138 socioeconomically diverse individuals with type 2 diabetes (68% female, 74% ≥ 50 years old, 61% non-Hispanic Caucasian). Participants were on a variety of diabetes medication regimens (61% injectable insulin monotherapy or in combination with orals). Content analysis of focus group transcripts was used to establish themes.

Results

Three major themes emerged across the focus groups: (1) the inconvenience and inflexibility of the timing and frequency of administration of many diabetes treatments on participants' lives, (2) the desire to avoid injections and/or insulin therapy, and (3) the physical and emotional side effects of diabetes medications. Assuming equivalent effectiveness of 2 medications, participants would weigh the convenience and flexibility, route of administration, side effects, and cost of the medications to arrive at a treatment preference. Participants believed they currently had no opportunity to express their treatment preference to their health care provider.

Conclusions

The best therapeutic option for a patient with type 2 diabetes will be one that is clinically effective and consistent with the patient's needs and preferences. The challenge for diabetes educators is to support patients in articulating and incorporating their needs and preferences into the treatment decision-making process.

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