Use of Blood Glucose Meters Among People With Type 2 Diabetes: Patient Perspectives

The clinical value of regular self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) in people with type 2 diabetes remains controversial. Some studies have found either no significant difference in A1C outcomes in groups performing or not performing SMBG1 or no evidence that SMBG confers benefits for outcomes other than A1C, such as mortality, long-term complications of diabetes, body weight, patient satisfaction, or quality of life.2 These studies2,3 have also indicated that there is “little indication that [patients are] using self-monitoring to effect and maintain behavior change.”

One reason typically cited for the apparent lack of efficacy for SMBG in patients with type 2 diabetes is that patients simply do not adequately follow recommendations from their health care professionals.4 To date, few studies have explored the patients' perspective on SMBG beyond including standardized scales of “well-being” in more mechanized studies.

In addition to formal recommendations from professional diabetes associations, leading diabetes clinicians and patient advocates with whom I am associated also disagree about the role of SMBG in the management of type 2 diabetes. My discussions with these individuals have provided further context for this topic. From them, I have heard:

  • People with type 2 diabetes should not test very much at all because an A1C test performed every 3 months can provide sufficient information without the frustration of having to draw blood for daily tests that serve little purpose.

  • Patients are just not getting the right education or motivation to be empowered to check their blood glucose levels and actually see the impact of their testing efforts.

  • SMBG should be shifted from data collection to helping patients use the meter as a way to learn about their own body and how their health choices affect them.

  • Patients are not focusing on the right thing—food. SMBG is …

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