Type 2 diabetes patients' views on prevention of hypoglycaemia - a mixed methods study investigating self-management issues and self-identified causes of hypoglycaemia

Stijn Crutzen*, Tessa van den Born-Bondt, Petra Denig, Katja Taxis

*Corresponding author for this work

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BACKGROUND: Hypoglycaemia is a common and potentially avoidable adverse event in people with type 2 diabetes (T2D). It can reduce quality of life, increase healthcare costs, and reduce treatment success. We investigated self-management issues associated with hypoglycaemia and self-identified causes of hypoglycaemia in these patients.

METHODS: In this mixed methods study qualitative semi-structured interviews were performed, which informed a subsequent quantitative survey in T2D patients. All interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded independently by two coders using directed content analysis, guided by the Theoretical Domains Framework. Descriptive statistics were used to quantify the self-management issues and causes of hypoglycaemia collected in the survey for the respondents that had experienced at least one hypoglycaemic event in the past.

RESULTS: Sixteen participants were interviewed, aged 59-84 years. Participants perceived difficulties in managing deviations from routine, and they sometimes lacked procedural knowledge to adjust medication, nutrition or physical activity to manage their glucose levels. Grief and loss of support due to the loss of a partner interfered with self-management and lead to hypoglycaemic events. Work ethic lead some participant to overexerting themselves, which in turn lead to hypoglycaemic events. The participants had difficulties preventing hypoglycaemic events, because they did not know the cause, suffered from impaired hypoglycaemia awareness and/or did not want to regularly measure their blood glucose. When they did recognise a cause, they identified issues with nutrition, physical activity, stress or medication. In total, 40% of respondents reported regular stress as an issue, 24% reported that they regularly overestimated their physical abilities, and 22% indicated they did not always know how to adjust their medication. Around 16% of patients could not always remember whether they took their medication, and 42% always took their medication at regular times. Among the 83 respondents with at least one hypoglycaemic event, common causes for hypoglycaemia mentioned were related to physical activity (67%), low food intake (52%), deviations from routine (35%) and emotional burden (28%). Accidental overuse of medication was reported by 10%.

CONCLUSION: People with T2D experience various issues with self-managing their glucose levels. This study underlines the importance of daily routine and being able to adjust medication in relation to more physical activity or less food intake as well as the ability to reduce and manage stress to prevent hypoglycaemic events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Early online date14-Jun-2021
Publication statusPublished - 14-Jun-2021


  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Self-management
  • Patient perspective
  • Mixed methods

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