Many adults with diabetes are unaware of their increased risk for certain serious illnesses, including pneumococcal pneumonia/pneumococcal disease, flu and hepatitis B, according to a recent national online survey sponsored by Merck & Co. (known as MSD in Europe) and the American Diabetes Association.
The findings reinforce the need for greater discussion between patients and healthcare providers to raise awareness of these risks.
In the survey of 1,003 US adults aged 18 years and older diagnosed with diabetes, respondents were twice as likely to recognise the potential for adults with diabetes to develop kidney disease (72%) and heart disease (67%), than serious infectious diseases such as pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia, meningitis, or an infection of the blood (36%).
While published data show adults with diabetes are approximately three times more likely to develop pneumococcal disease compared to healthy adults of the same age, only about 1 in 3 survey respondents (35%) knew this. Fewer than half of those surveyed (43%) responded that they had discussed the risk factors for pneumococcal pneumonia/pneumococcal disease with their doctor.
“These data illustrate that patients with diabetes are not fully aware of their risk of other serious illnesses, and that there is a critical communication gap between patients and their health care providers about the risks, said Robert Ratner, former Chief Scientific & Medical Officer of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). “Because people with diabetes have increased risks for these diseases and more complicated medical courses when they contract them, health care providers should seek to initiate discussions with patients to bridge the information gap, as recommended in ADA’s Standards of Care.”
The 2016 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, says, “Ongoing patient self-management education and support are critical to preventing acute complications, and reducing the risk of long-term complications.”
The Standards of Care also recognise and emphasise the importance of patient-centered engagement and communication, as the foundation of diabetes care.
“This lack of awareness is significant—based on the survey, we know that adults with diabetes wish they knew more about certain diseases for which they are at risk, including pneumococcal pneumonia or pneumococcal disease,” said Mel Kohn, medical director of Merck.
In March of 2015, Merck and the ADA formed a collaboration aiming to educate adults with diabetes about the increased risk for illnesses including pneumococcal pneumonia, flu and hepatitis B, encouraging people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes to talk with their healthcare providers about these diseases.
As part of the collaboration, an educational resource is available on the Association’s Diabetes Forecast website to help guide adults with diabetes to have informed conversations with their health care team: www.DiabetesForecast.org/knowyourrisk