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What are the barriers faced by patients using insulin? A qualitative study of Malaysian health care professionals’ views

Authors Lee YK, Ng CJ , Lee P, Khoo E , Abdullah K, Low W, Samad A, Chen W

Received 6 August 2012

Accepted for publication 12 September 2012

Published 23 January 2013 Volume 2013:7 Pages 103—109


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Yew Kong Lee,1 Chirk Jenn Ng,1 Ping Yein Lee,2 Ee Ming Khoo,1 Khatijah Lim Abdullah,3 Wah Yun Low,4 Azah Abdul Samad,5 Wei Seng Chen6

1Department of Primary Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 2Department of Family Medicine, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia; 3Department of Nursing Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 4Faculty of Medicine Dean's Office, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 5Klinik Kesihatan Pantai, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 6Klinik Alam Medic, Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia

Background: Patients with type 2 diabetes often require insulin as the disease progresses. However, health care professionals frequently encounter challenges when managing patients who require insulin therapy. Understanding how health care professionals perceive the barriers faced by patients on insulin will facilitate care and treatment strategies.
Objective: This study explores the views of Malaysian health care professionals on the barriers faced by patients using insulin.
Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with health care professionals involved in diabetes care using insulin. Forty-one health care professionals participated in the study, consisting of primary care doctors (n = 20), family medicine specialists (n = 10), government policymakers (n = 5), diabetes educators (n = 3), endocrinologists (n = 2), and one pharmacist. We used a topic guide to facilitate the interviews, which were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using a thematic approach.
Results: Five themes were identified as barriers: side effects, patient education, negative perceptions, blood glucose monitoring, and patient adherence to treatment and follow-up. Patients perceive that insulin therapy causes numerous negative side effects. There is a lack of patient education on proper glucose monitoring and how to optimize insulin therapy. Cost of treatment and patient ignorance are highlighted when discussing patient self-monitoring of blood glucose. Finally, health care professionals identified a lack of a follow-up system, especially for patients who do not keep to regular appointments.
Conclusion: This study identifies five substantial barriers to optimizing insulin therapy. Health care professionals who successfully identify and address these issues will empower patients to achieve effective self-management. System barriers require government agency in establishing insulin follow-up programs, multidisciplinary diabetes care teams, and subsidies for glucometers and test strips.

Keywords: primary care, focus groups, noncommunicable disease, diabetes, insulin, qualitative study

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