There is a lack of communication between patients with type 2 diabetes and physicians regarding hypoglycemia, it has been revealed by new multinational survey data released to accompany with the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) 47th Annual Meeting.

Conducted by MSD, the survey evaluated physicians and patients from 11 countries across Europe, Asia and Latin America. (32%) nearly one-third of patients who were surveyed explained that they didn’t regularly talk about hypoglycemia with their physician, partially due to limited understanding regarding hypoglycemia and lack of time, indicating a need for enhancing the way patients and physicians communicate.

The results revealed 1,354 type 2 diabetes patients across all regions that were surveyed, showed a lack of understanding of the symptoms and possible causes of hypoglycemia. 72% of patients in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East as well as 53% of diabetes patients in the European countries surveyed did not choose medication as a cause of hypoglycemia. Out of patients who did not frequently discuss hypoglycemia with their doctor 21% said they believed there was nothing their doctor could do to assist them manage the condition. Additionally, over half (58%) of the 675 physicians surveyed didn’t believe that patients always tell them about all of their hypoglycemia episodes. By region the results varied significantly, in six European countries 81% of physicians surveyed considered patients to not fully explain all details of hypoglycemia episodes, compared to 45% in other regions.

Barry J. Goldstein, M.D., Ph.D., vice president and therapeutic area head, diabetes and endocrinology, Merck Research Laboratories, MSD’s parent company, explained:

“Hypoglycemia is a real problem for diabetes patients. These data highlight that it is essential for patients to understand and recognize signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and discuss hypoglycemia management with their physicians.”

The results from the survey underline the need for improved education for patients with type 2 diabetes and enhance patient and physician conversations about hypoglycemia. In Asia, Latin America and the Middle East 74% almost three quarters of patients surveyed thought it would really useful or very helpful to be able to talk about hypoglycemia more regularly with their physicians. Furthermore, almost all of the physicians (94%) explained that it would be really useful or very helpful to have additional information and resources to help their type 2 diabetes patients identify and manage hypoglycemia.

About Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia (or low blood sugar), happens when the level of glucose in the blood drops too low for for the body requires. It can occur among individuals with type 2 diabetes and is connected with certain medications for type 2 diabetes. Symptoms include, sweating, hunger, anxiety, palpitations, tremors and behavioral changes. In addition it can also reduce an individuals’ adherence to diabetes medication, with patients reporting they are not sure regarding how to follow their medication instructions and treatment plans.

Survey Design

The ‘Exploring Hypoglycemia Survey’, conducted by Kantar Health for MSD, investigated the views of physicians and individuals with type 2 diabetes around the world to better understand knowledge, behavior and communication surrounding hypoglycemia. A total of 2,029 interviews were carried out among 675 physicians, including diabetologists / diabetes specialists, general practitioners, specialists in internal medicine, endocrinologists or cardiologists and separately, 1,354 individuals who had been diagnosed with and treated for type 2 diabetes across France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Brazil, Mexico, China, India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Written by Grace Rattue