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BMC Health Serv Res. 2008 Jul 7;8:142. doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-8-142.

Self-reported diabetes is associated with self-management behaviour: a cohort study.

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  • 1Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Canada.



The purposes of this cohort study were to establish how frequently people with physician-diagnosed diabetes self-reported the disease, to determine factors associated with self-reporting of diabetes, and to evaluate subsequent differences in self-management behaviour, health care utilisation and clinical outcomes between people who do and do not report their disease.


We used a registry of physician-diagnosed diabetes as a reference standard. We studied respondents to a 2000/01 population-based health survey who were in the registry (n = 1,812), and we determined the proportion who reported having diabetes during the survey. Baseline factors associated with self-report and subsequent behavioural, utilisation and clinical differences between those who did and did not self-report were defined from the survey responses and from linkage with administrative data sources.


Only 75% of people with physician-diagnosed diabetes reported having the disease. People who did self-report were more likely to be male, to live in rural areas, to have longer disease duration and to have received specialist physician care. People who did not report having diabetes in the survey were markedly less likely to perform capillary blood glucose monitoring in the subsequent two years (OR 0.05, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.08). They were also less likely to receive specialist physician care (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.86), and were less likely to require hospital care for hypo- or hyperglycaemia (OR 0.09, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.28).


Many people with physician-diagnosed diabetes do not report having the disease, but most demographic and clinical features do not distinguish these individuals. These individuals are much less likely to perform capillary glucose monitoring, suggesting that their diabetes self-management is inadequate. Clinicians may be able to use the absence of glucose monitoring as a screening tool to identify people needing a detailed evaluation of their disease knowledge.

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