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Psychological barriers to insulin therapy may delay timely treatment

Photo: Many diabetics not willing to use insulin
For many Australians with diabetes being told they need to start injecting insulin is scary.

But delaying its use is risky to long-term health, experts warn.

New research released by Diabetes Australia shows that one in four Australians with type 2 diabetes is not willing to use the potentially life-saving medication despite their doctor's recommendation.

Often when a person is first diagnosed they can manage the condition through diet and exercise or oral medications.

But as the disease progresses patients will need to begin insulin therapy to help manage the blood glucose levels.

Currently, there are nearly 1.1 million Australians diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and over 250,000 of these using insulin to manage their diabetes.
Worryingly, an Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes (ACBRD) study found 70 per cent of patients wrongly believed insulin will make their condition worse.

"For example they might be concerned that insulin might cause complications of diabetes and this might be because they might have a family member or friend who went on to insulin about the same time that they were diagnosed with un-related complications," said lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott, a research fellow at the ACBRD.

There is also concern about actually using insulin, Dr Homes-Truscott said.

"Anxieties around using insulin in public, fear of the pain insulin might cause."

Half of the study participants believed the use of insulin meant they'd 'failed' to manage the condition on their own.

Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott, a research at ACBRD says these are powerful ideas that impact on a person's willingness to use a proven and effective treatment.

She says its vital people are aware that the complications of diabetes are caused by chronic, or prolonged, high glucose levels.

"Insulin is just another tool in your toolkit of medications that you can use to help best manage your condition. If you need insulin to manage your diabetes, it's great that we have this medication to help us live a long healthy life," Dr Holmes-Truscott told AAP.

"Talk you your health care professional about your concerns about the treatment," she advised.


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