The 27% of people with diabetes who are on insulin therapy know that the insulin injections are needed to manage their disease and to lower the risk of diabetes-related complications. So, why did a new survey of 502 adults with diabetes find that most had skipped insulin injections that they knew they should take? A surprisingly high 20% said they sometimes or often chose to skip their insulin.
There are many factors that could be influencing those decisions. The investigators teased out a number of them, including two that clinicians should be able to address — pain and embarrassment from injecting insulin. In a previous study by some of the same investigators, however, patients complained that when they tried to discuss the pain and embarrassment of insulin shots with their health care providers, they didn’t get sufficient help.
The report notes that a variety of device-related strategies might reduce injection-related pain or embarrassment, including use of insulin pens, needleless injectors, and other injection assistance devices. That may be so, but it should be noted that the study was funded by a company that makes an injection device.
Reasons for intentionally omitting an insulin injection differed somewhat between people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. A problem for one insulin user may be no big deal to another. It seems that physicians should get to know individual patients’ thoughts and habits around insulin injections to help them pursue a strategy for adhering to therapy.