What do internal medicine residents need to enhance their diabetes care?
OBJECTIVE: To identify areas that should be targeted for improvement in care, we examined internal medicine resident practice patterns and beliefs regarding diabetes in a large urban hospital outpatient clinic. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Internal medicine residents were surveyed to assess the frequency at which they performed key diabetes quality of care indicators. Responses were compared with recorded performance derived from chart and laboratory database reviews. Resident attitudes about diabetes were determined using the Diabetes Attitude Survey for Practitioners. Finally, an eight-item scale was used to assess barriers to diabetes care. RESULTS: Both self-described and recorded performance of recommended diabetes services short of national recommendations. For yearly eye examinations and lipid screening, recorded performance levels were similar to trainees' reports. However, documented inquiries about patient self-monitoring of blood glucose, performance of foot examinations, and urine protein screening were lower than trainees' reports. Some 49% of the residents selected a target HbA1c of 6.6-7.5% as an attainable goal, yet half of the patients using oral agents or insulin had HbA1c values > 8.0%. No differences in self-described or recorded performance were found by year of training. Most residents did not perceive themselves to need additional training related to diabetes care, and residents were generally neutral about patient autonomy. Patient nonadherence and time constraints within the clinic were most often cited as barriers to care. CONCLUSIONS: The study identifies several areas that require improvement in resident care of diabetes in the ambulatory setting. Because experience during training contributes to future practice patterns, developing a program that teaches trainees how to implement diabetes practice guidelines and methods to achieve optimal glycemic control may be key to future improvements in the quality of diabetes care.