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J Gen Intern Med. 2017 Jan;32(1):49-55. doi: 10.1007/s11606-016-3871-3. Epub 2016 Oct 11.

Patients' Future Expectations for Diabetes and Hypertension Treatments: "Through the Diet… I Think This is Going to Go Away."

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Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.
Department of Medicine, Section of General Internal Medicine, University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, MC 2007, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA.
Department of Medicine, Section of General Internal Medicine, University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, MC 2007, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA.



Diabetes and hypertension are chronic conditions for which over 90 % of patients require medication regimens that must be intensified over time. However, delays in intensification are common, and may be partially due to unrealistic patient expectations.


To explore whether patient expectations regarding their diabetes and hypertension are congruent with the natural history of these conditions.


Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews.


Sixty adults from an urban academic primary care clinic taking oral medications for both diabetes (duration <10 years) and hypertension (any duration) MAIN MEASURES: (1) Expectations for their a) current diabetes and hypertension medications, b) need for additional medications, c) likelihood of cure (not requiring medications); (2) preferences for receiving information on expected duration of treatments KEY RESULTS: The average patient age was 60 years, and 65 % were women. Nearly half (48 %) of participants expected to discontinue current diabetes medications in 6 years or less, whereas only one-fifth (22 %) expected to take medications for life. For blood pressure medications, one-third (37 %) expected to stop medicines in 6 years or less, and one-third expected to take medicines for life. The vast majority did not expect that they would need additional medications in the future (oral diabetes medications: 85 %; insulin: 87 %; hypertension medications: 93 %). A majority expected that their diabetes (65 %) and hypertension (58 %) would be cured. Most participants believed that intensifying lifestyle changes would allow them to discontinue medications, avoid additional medications, or cure their diabetes and hypertension. Nearly all participants (97 %) wanted to hear information on the expected duration of their diabetes and hypertension treatments from their healthcare provider.


Providers should educate patients on the natural history of diabetes and hypertension in order to manage patient expectations for current and future medications. Future research should assess whether education can increase the adoption of and adherence to medications, without diminishing enthusiasm for lifestyle changes.


clinical inertia; diabetes; hypertension; patients’ expectations

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

Compliance with Ethical Standards Funders Dr. Laiteerapong is supported by a National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) award K23 DK092783 and Dr. Huang is supported by NIDDK award K24 DK105340. Dr. Laiteerapong, Dr. Quinn, Dr. Huang, and Ms. Nathan are members of the NIDDK Chicago Center for Diabetes Translation Research (CCDTR) at the University of Chicago (P30 DK092949). This research was supported by a CCDTR pilot grant and by the University of Chicago Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence. Data were organized using REDCap, which is supported by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) UL1 TR000430. The funders had no role in the design or conduct of the study; the collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data; or the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript. Conflict of Interest The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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