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Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2006, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
'Ignorance' on diabetes treatment
Diabetes injection
Control of diabetes is very important
Two-thirds of the two million people with diabetes in the UK do not take their medication as prescribed, research suggests.

The study also found one in three did not understand what their medication was for or how to take it because they felt stupid asking questions.

Experts warn failure to manage diabetes properly can have serious consequences.

Diabetes UK, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and Ask About Medicines commissioned the study.

Nearly two thirds (58%) of people with diabetes don't fully understand the meaning of their diagnosis
Nearly a fifth of people with diabetes don't understand as much as they would like to about difference between available medicines
Nearly 60% find it difficult to ask questions because there is not enough time during their consultation or their doctor/nurse seems too busy

The report calls on healthcare professionals to do more to help people with diabetes get appropriate information about their condition.

It will be presented to the Department of Health by Adrian Sanders MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diabetes.

According to the report:

  • Half of diabetes patients in the UK have depression

  • One in five suffers preventable complications as a result of neglecting to take their medicine

  • More than 60% of pregnant women with diabetes do not realise that stillbirth is a possible complication of not managing their condition or that their baby could be born with congenital malformations such as a heart defect or breathing problems

  • Almost a third of diabetics (32%) do not realise heart disease is a common complication of diabetes

  • More than a third of sufferers in the UK do not realise they will have the condition for life

  • Half of patients do not realise that diabetes may reduce life expectancy

Short-term approach

Simon O'Neill, director of care and policy at Diabetes UK, said: "Short-termism is a great enemy of good diabetes care.

"As this research shows, many people struggle to realise the importance of taking their medicines, especially if the consequences are not immediately apparent despite the fact that damage caused by not taking their medicines is irreparable.

"Good diabetes management could be seen to be similar to a pension plan - invest now to gain benefits in the future as in both situations there is no going back."

Joanne Shaw, chair of Ask About Medicine, said: "It's vital that people with diabetes are encouraged and empowered to ask questions, as patients who have a good knowledge of their treatment options are better equipped to make informed decisions about medicines and other treatments."

Richard Tiner, ABPI medical director, said there was no substitute for a good open relationship between diabetes patients and healthcare professionals.

"We hope the report will serve as a call to action to healthcare professionals to experiment with information prescriptions for their patients and encourage them to ask questions about their condition and treatment."

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