Survey Assesses Physician Knowledge Of Prediabetes Risk Factors

When a survey was given to primary care physicians (PCPs) at a medical retreat most of the 140 respondents did not know all 11 risk factors that qualify individuals for pre-diabetes screening. They did select eight out of the 11 risk factors correctly, on average.

The Johns Hopkins researchers who distributed the survey also found nearly a third of the PCPs were unacquainted with the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA’s) pre-diabetes guidelines.

“Although this survey was conducted among primary care providers from a large academically-affiliated practice and may not represent providers from other types of practice settings, we think the findings are a wake-up call for all primary care providers to better recognize the risk factors for pre-diabetes, which is a major public health issue,” said researcher Eva Tseng, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates 86 million U.S. adults have pre-diabetes, and 70 percent of them will develop type 2 diabetes if the condition is not addressed. Dietary changes, increased physical activity, and medication are the recommended measures for preventing the progression to type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, about 90 percent of those with pre-diabetes are unaware they have the symptoms. Wanting to understand why so many people go undiagnosed prompted the Johns Hopkins survey.

The survey asked PCPs to select pre-diabetes risk factors from a list, and to identify measures such as screening guidelines, fasting glucose and A1C values for pre-diabetes, weight loss, and activity guidelines, and initial patient management approaches. The PCPs’ attitudes and beliefs about pre-diabetes were also assessed.

The doctors’ survey answers revealed some differences between what they practice, and what the ADA recommends.

For instance, the ADA recommends referring those with pre-diabetes to behavioral weight loss programs, a treatment that research supports, but only 11 percent of the physicians selected this as a pre-diabetes management tool. However, 96 percent of the PCPs selected diet and physical activity counseling to address the condition.

“Primary care providers play a vital role in screening and identifying patients at risk for developing diabetes. This study highlights the importance of increasing provider knowledge and availability of resources to help patients reduce their risk of diabetes,” says study author Nisa Maruthur, assistant professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine
Photo credit: Vic

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