Psychological barriers to insulin therapy may delay timely treatment

New research shows that one in four Australians with type 2 diabetes is not willing to use insulin despite their doctor’s recommendation, with this group reporting more concerns or fears about the insulin therapy.

Diabetes Australia CEO, A/Prof Greg Johnson said “Insulin therapy is important and necessary for hundreds of thousands of Australians with type 2 diabetes – there are currently nearly 1.1 million Australians already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and over 250,000 of these people are using insulin to manage their diabetes – but more people need to use insulin and we need to address the psychological barriers to this necessary treatment.”

Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott, Research Fellow, at the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes (ACBRD) who conducted the study, says psychological barriers to insulin use are common and may lead to the delay of starting beneficial treatment among people with type 2 diabetes. Also, people already using insulin are sometimes reluctant to intensify their insulin treatment.

“In addition to practical concerns about injecting insulin, people also have concerns about what using insulin symbolises,” said Dr Holmes-Truscott. “We found around 70% of people with type 2 diabetes believe that taking insulin would mean their diabetes has become much worse, and 50% report feeling that insulin would mean they’ve ‘failed’ to manage their diabetes. These are powerful ideas that impact on their willingness to use an effective treatment that can benefit their long-term health.”