The Impact of Severe Hypoglycemia and Impaired Awareness of Hypoglycemia on Relatives of Patients With Type 1 Diabetes
- Hanne V. Jørgensen, RN1,
- Ulrik Pedersen-Bjergaard, MD2,
- Åse K. Rasmussen, MD, PHD13 and
- Knut Borch-Johnsen, MD, PHD1
- 1Steno Diabetes Center, Gentofte, Denmark
- 2Department of Internal Medicine F, Hillerød Hospital, Denmark
- 3Department of Medical Endocrinology, PE 2131, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
OBJECTIVE—Severe hypoglycemia is a major problem for patients with type 1 diabetes and their relatives. The aim of this study was to compare patients’ and relatives’ assessments of rates of severe hypoglycemia and state of awareness and to explore the influence on involvement and concern of relatives.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—A cross-sectional paired questionnaire survey on hypoglycemia and the state of awareness was used in our study comprising 284 unselected adult patients with type 1 diabetes and their closest cohabitant. The cohabitant questionnaires also addressed involvement and concern.
RESULTS—The agreement between assessments of rates of severe hypoglycemia and state of awareness made by patients and cohabitants was weak (κ 0.404 and 0.442, respectively; P < 0.001). Cohabitants recalled more episodes of severe hypoglycemia than patients (2.7 vs. 1.6 episodes/patient-year; P < 0.001). Degree of involvement was positively related to the rate of severe hypoglycemia (P = 0.002) and negatively related to the state of awareness (P = 0.007) but not to level of HbA1c, duration of diabetes, or presence of late complications, except for peripheral neuropathy (P = 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS—Cohabitants of patients with type 1 diabetes recall significantly more episodes of severe hypoglycemia than the patients. The rate of severe hypoglycemia and state of hypoglycemic awareness are the principal determinants of degree of cohabitants’ involvement in their partners’ disease.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Hanne Vesterdal Jørgensen, RN, Steno Diabetes Center, Niels Steensens Vej 2, DK-2820 Gentofte, Denmark. E-mail:.
Received for publication 10 August 2002 and accepted in revised form 9 January 2003.
H.V.J. and K.B.-J. hold stock in Novo Nordisk; U.P.-B. has received a research grant from Novo Nordisk; and K.B.-J. has received funding from Novo Nordisk and Bristol Meyers Squibb and has received honoraria for speaking engagements from Bristol Meyers Squibb, Farmacia, Novartis, Eli Lilly, and Merck Sharp and Dohme.
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- DIABETES CARE