Published on 17 September 2019

Study finds that 64% of family members of people with diabetes are worried or anxious about their family members’ risk of hypoglycaemia.

An international study has reported that the risk of hypoglycaemic episodes is a concern to 64% of family members of people living with diabetes.

The Talk-Hypo study surveyed 4,300 family members of people living with diabetes, the results were published recently in Diabetes Therapy and showed that hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, also known as ‘hypos’, can be perceived as a substantial burden by family members of people with diabetes.

A reported 64% of family members of people with diabetes said they were worried or anxious about the risk of hypoglycaemia, whilst 66% said that they think about their family members’ risk of hypos at least once a month.

In addition, 74% of study participants that were helping their relative with diabetes to manage their hypos, said they spend less time on, or do not participate in other activities such as hobbies, holidays or being with other friends or family as a result.

Dr Stewart Harris

Dr Stewart Harris, Professor in Family Medicine/Division of Endocrinology/Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, and lead investigator for the TALK-HYPO study, said: “There has been little research undertaken on how big a burden hypos can actually be - not only for the person living with diabetes - but also for family members.

“As relevant as it is in clinical practice, hypoglycaemia is often overlooked during a regular consultation. This study suggests that having more hypo-talks may help improve the lives of people with diabetes and their family members.”

The importance of talking more about the condition was also highlighted in the results of the study as 76% of respondents said having more conversations on this topic could lead to a positive impact on the life of their relative living with diabetes.

More than 80% of the respondents felt that talking about hypos with relatives living with diabetes brings them closer together. A further around 80% of people surveyed said that hypo conversations helped them understand how they can better help with the management of hypos, in addition to having a better understanding of what their relative with diabetes is going through.

When conversations about hypos do happen, study participants reported that they start almost half (45%) of these, with 43% reporting that the main thing preventing these conversations is their relative with diabetes not wanting to talk about hypos.

Study authors said a relative with diabetes should be encouraged to discuss hypos with their healthcare professionals. In meetings with healthcare professionals prevention and treatment of hypos were the most common topics, for 78% of family members who participated in the study.

Read the report in Diabetes Therapy
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