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Diabetic Medicine
Year: 2012  |  Volume: 29  |  Issue: 8  |  Page No.: 1079 - 1084

Experiences of using blood glucose targets when following an intensive insulin regimen: a qualitative longitudinal investigation involving patients with Type 1 diabetes

D. Rankin, D. D. Cooke, S. Heller, J. Elliott, S. Amiel and J. Lawton    

Abstract: Aims  Use of blood glucose targets is considered essential to help patients with Type 1 diabetes achieve tight glycaemic control following structured education. To foster effective use of blood glucose targets, we explored patients' experiences and views of implementing clinically recommended blood glucose targets after attending a structured education programme promoting intensive insulin treatment.

Methods  Repeat, in-depth interviews with 30 patients with Type 1 diabetes recruited from Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating (DAFNE) courses in the UK. Data were analysed using an inductive, thematic approach.

Results  Patients found use of blood glucose targets motivational. Targets enabled patients to identify problems with blood glucose control and prompted them to make insulin dose adjustments independently, or with assistance. However, patients tended to adapt or simplify targets over time to: make them more attainable and easy to remember; reduce risk of hypoglycaemia; and, mitigate feelings of failure when attempts to attain clinically defined targets were unsuccessful. Some patients were advised to use elevated targets to counter hypoglycaemia unawareness and required help from health professionals to determine when/if these should be reduced.

Conclusions  Although blood glucose targets are an important component of diabetes self-management, patients may adapt and personalize them over time, sometimes inadvertently, with a potentially detrimental impact on long-term glycaemic control. Blood glucose targets should be regularly revisited during clinical reviews and revised/new targets agreed to accommodate patients' concerns and difficulties. Other interventions may need to be considered to promote effective use of blood glucose targets.

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