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Open Access Research article

Reasons given by general practitioners for non-treatment decisions in younger and older patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus in the United Kingdom: a survey study

Qiaoyi Zhang1*, Elizabeth Marrett1, Kevin Jameson2, Susanne Meiler3, Michael J Davies1, Larry Radican1 and Alan J Sinclair4

Author Affiliations

1 Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., Whitehouse Station, NJ USA

2 MSD UK Ltd., Hoddesdon, UK

3 Kantar Health GmbH, München, Germany

4 Beds & Herts Postgraduate Medical School, Luton, UK

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BMC Endocrine Disorders 2011, 11:17  doi:10.1186/1472-6823-11-17

Published: 28 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Older patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus are less likely to receive antihyperglycaemic therapy compared to their younger counterparts. The purpose of this study was to assess the reasons of general practitioners (GPs) for not treating younger and older patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus with antihyperglycaemic agents.

Methods

In a survey conducted between November 2009 and January 2010, 358 GPs from the United Kingdom selected reasons for not initiating antihyperglycaemic therapy in younger (< 65 years) and older (≥65 years) patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus and untreated with any antihyperglycaemic agent for at least six months following diagnosis. Thirty-six potential reasons were classified into four major categories: Mild hyperglycaemia, Factors related to antihyperglycaemic agents, Comorbidities and polypharmacy, and Patient-related reasons. Reasons for non-treatment were compared between younger (n = 1, 023) and older (n = 1, 005) patients.

Results

Non-treatment reasons related to Mild hyperglycaemia were selected more often by GPs for both younger (88%) and older (86%) patients than those in other categories. For older patients, Factors related to antihyperglycaemic agents (46% vs. 38%) and Comorbidities and polypharmacy (33% vs. 19%), both including safety-related issues, were selected significantly (p < 0.001) more often by GPs. No between-group difference was observed for the Patient-related reasons category. The GP-reported HbA1c threshold for initiating antihyperglycaemic therapy was significantly (p < 0.001) lower for younger patients (mean ± standard deviation: 7.3% ± 0.7) compared to older patients (7.5% ± 0.9).

Conclusions

GPs selected reasons related to Mild hyperglycaemia for non-treatment of their untreated patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus, despite nearly one-third of these patients having their most recent HbA1c value ≥7%. The findings further suggest that safety-related issues may influence the non-treatment of older patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.