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'No benefit' from diabetes self-tests

18th April 2008

Two studies have cast doubt on the impact of encouraging people with type 2 diabetes to monitor their own blood sugar levels.

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The findings suggest the move may have little effect on improving care and also be a waste of NHS resources.

Published in the British Medical Journal, one study indicated that patients who self-test are more likely to end up depressed than in better health while another claimed that self-testing costs £90 extra per patient per year and may lead to a worse quality of life.

While monitoring blood sugar levels means patients, such as those with type 1 diabetes who need to take insulin, can control their disease, there has been a move in recent years to encourage self-testing for those patients who have type 2 diabetes.

A trial of 180 people who had been newly referred to a hospital diabetes clinic in Northern Ireland found self-monitoring did not improve blood glucose control compared with normal care.

Study leader Dr Maurice O’Kane said: “What we can say is if people do not want to monitor there’s no evidence their care will be inferior.?

University of Oxford researchers looked at the cost-effectiveness of self-monitoring in type 2 diabetes.

Study leader Dr Judit Simon said routine self-monitoring did not prove to be cost-effective and there was a negative effect on the quality of life for some people.

Diabetes UK said decisions on self-monitoring had to be made on an individual basis with patients being educated on what to do with the results.

 

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