Objective: The aim was to assess demographic and clinical factors as predictors of short (6 months) and long term (18 months) HbA1c levels in diabetes patients initiating metformin treatment.
Research design and methods: We conducted a cohort study including type 2 diabetes patients who received their first metformin prescription between 2007 and 2013 in the Groningen Initiative to Analyze Type 2 Diabetes Treatment (GIANTT) database. The primary outcome was HbA1c level at follow-up adjusted for baseline HbA1c; the secondary outcome was failing to achieve the target HbA1c level of 53mmol/mol. Associations were analyzed by linear and logistic regression. Multiple imputation was used for missing data. Additional analyses stratified by dose and adherence level were conducted.
Results: The cohort included 6050 patients initiating metformin. Baseline HbA1c at target consistently predicted better HbA1c outcomes. Longer diabetes duration and lower total cholesterol level at baseline were predictors for higher HbA1c levels at 6 months. At 18 months, cholesterol level was not a predictor. Longer diabetes duration was also associated with not achieving the target HbA1c at follow-up. The association for longer diabetes duration was especially seen in patients starting on low dose treatment. No consistent associations were found for comorbidity and comedication.
Conclusions: Diabetes duration was a relevant predictor of HbA1c levels after 6 and 18 months of follow-up in patients initiating metformin treatment. Given the study design, no causal inference can be made. Our study suggests that prompt treatment intensification may be needed in patients who have a longer diabetes duration at treatment initiation.