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Br J Gen Pract. 2004 March; 54(500): 183–188.
PMCID: PMC1314828

Blood glucose self-monitoring in non-insulin-treated type 2 diabetes: a qualitative study of patients' perspectives.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Self-monitoring of blood glucose is controversial in the management of type 2 diabetes. Some research suggests that self-monitoring improves glycaemic control, whereas other research is sceptical about its value for people with type 2 diabetes who are not on insulin. Although blood glucose meters are widely available and used by this group, patients' own views are absent from the debate. AIM: To explore the pros and cons of glucose monitoring from the patients' perspectives. DESIGN OF STUDY: Qualitative repeat-interview study. SETTING: Patients were recruited from 16 general practices and three hospital clinics within four local healthcare cooperatives in Lothian, Scotland. METHOD: Interview data from 40 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the previous 6 months were analysed using thematic analysis informed by grounded theory. We report findings from round 1 and round 2 interviews. RESULTS: Glucose monitoring can heighten patients' awareness of the impact of lifestyle; for example, dietary choices, on blood glucose levels. Glucose monitoring amplifies a sense of 'success' or 'failure' about self-management, often resulting in anxiety and self-blame if glucose readings remain consistently high. Moreover, monitoring can negatively effect patients' self-management when readings are counter-intuitive. CONCLUSION: Our analysis highlights the importance of understanding the meanings that newly diagnosed patients attach to glucose self-monitoring. To maximise the positive effects of self-monitoring, health professionals should ensure that patients understand the purpose of monitoring and should clarify with patients how readings should be interpreted.


Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners