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Half With Diabetes Skip Insulin Injections

Pain, Inconvenience, Poor Diet Among Reasons Given for Skipped Insulin Injections

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 26, 2010 -- More than half of the people prescribed insulin injections to control their diabetes have skipped their injections in the past, and one in five do so sometimes or often, according to a new study.

But the reasons behind skipped insulin injections may vary according to the type of diabetes.

Researchers say more than 25% of people with diabetes take insulin. All people with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes require insulin injections to manage their disease and to prevent and slow the progression of potentially dangerous complications.

The study showed that people with type 1 diabetes who didn't follow their recommended diet were most likely to skip their insulin injections. Among those with type 2 diabetes, younger people, those with a lower income, and those who perceived their insulin injections as painful or embarrassing were more likely to skip them.

"Intentionally skipping insulin injections may be more common than clinicians think," researcher Mark Peyrot, PhD, of the department of sociology at Loyola University Maryland, says in a news release. "It's important for physicians and other health-care professionals to be aware of potential risk factors, especially for patients who report injection-related problems."

Who Skips Insulin Injections?

In the study, published in Diabetes Care, researchers surveyed 500 people via the Internet who were prescribed insulin by injection to manage their type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

The survey showed that 57% reported intentionally skipping insulin injections they know they should take, and 20% said they skip insulin injections "sometimes" or "often."

When researchers looked at the reasons behind skipped insulin injections, they found that students, people with type 2 diabetes, and people who took more frequent injections were more likely to skip them.

Other factors that increased the likelihood of skipping insulin injections were:

  • Not following a healthy diet
  • Thinking that the injections interfered with their daily activities
  • Feeling that the insulin injections were painful or embarrassing

The study showed that older people with diabetes, people who were disabled, and people with a higher household income were less likely to skip their insulin injections.

SOURCES: Peyrot, M. Diabetes Care, February 2010; vol 33: pp 240-245.

News release, American Diabetes Association.

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