Making care fit in the lives of young adults with type 1 diabetes

Marleen Kunneman, Matthijs Graner, and Viet-Thi Tran

Even if care seems right from a medical perspective, if care doesn’t fit for each individual, we may ‘deliver care’ without actually ‘caring’. The recently published Making Care Fit Manifesto (1) states that for care to fit, care should be maximally responsive to patients’ unique situation and supportive to their priorities. Care should also be minimally disruptive to patients’ lives, loved ones, and social network. Making care fit requires patients (and their caregivers) and clinicians to collaborate, both in content and manner, and it is an ongoing and iterative process where care plans should continuously be evaluated and modified.

This is especially pertinent for young adults living with type 1 diabetes. Previous research showed that young adults with type 1 diabetes have relatively poor biomedical and psychosocial outcomes (2,3). For example, HbA1c levels are higher in younger adults compared to other age groups, and strikingly, they are also higher now than they were a decade ago (3).

At the same time, very little is known about what young adults do to implement diabetes care in their lives, and what price they have to pay in terms of negative effects on themselves and their surroundings. Also, how do we bridge what happens in their personal environment (‘point of life’) and what happens during clinical encounters (‘point of care’)? Because whatever is left undiscussed with their clinicians, is also left unconsidered when designing care plans.

We explored experiences of young adults with type 1 diabetes trying to make care fit into their lives. First, we asked 62 young adults with type 1 diabetes (Median age: 27, IQR 24 to 27, 80% women) from the French ‘Community of Patients for Research’ (ComPaRe) for their experiences with the burden of treatment. They reported a high burden4 of diabetes treatment (76.5 out of 150, IIQR 59 to 94). Importantly, 3 of every 4 young adults (74%) reported that their investment of time, energy, and efforts in healthcare is unsustainable over time. This is about twice as high as for other people with chronic conditions.

Second, the Dutch ééndiabetes foundation (for and by young adults with type 1 diabetes) asked its members for their experiences in making diabetes care fit into their lives. Nine of 25 young adults (36%) indicated that their diabetes care regularly or very often hinders their education, work, hobbies, leisure or social lives. When asked to describe their biggest efforts to fit diabetes care into their daily life, they responded:

“You want to live a fun and spontaneous life, but you have to nonstop keep an eye on your sugars.”

“Food. Everything you have to do then. That’s why I sometimes skip my meals.”

“Planning. Not just the hospital appointments and changing needles, but also planning with the energy I will or will not have.”

“Regulating hypo’s and then compensating for the time I couldn’t function well due to a hypo.”

“On time and constant planning ahead. What do I need? Do I have all my stuff before I leave? When do I have to place new orders to make sure I don’t run out?”

Additionally, we asked young adults what they do to fit diabetes care into their lives, but what they don’t discuss with their clinician. Some indicated they discuss “everything” or “nothing” with their clinician. Others said:

“I use a DIY loop. (I did tell my clinician but he wasn’t interested)”

“I delay my hospital appointments as long as I can.”

“I discuss everything about my diabetes with my clinician. All the better they can help me.”

“I bolus less to prevent hypos.”

Communication is key to bridge efforts of making care fit at the point of life and at the point of care. Our future work will focus on uncovering better ways to improve the quality of diabetes care through improving conversations. And to help young adults with their lifelong, daily and ongoing endeavor of making diabetes care fit.



  1. Kunneman M, Griffioen IPM, Labrie NHM, Kristiansen M, Montori VM, van Beusekom MM, Making Care Fit Working G. Making care fit manifesto. BMJ Evid Based Med. 2021.
  2. Johnson B, Elliott J, Scott A, Heller S, Eiser C. Medical and psychological outcomes for young adults with Type 1 diabetes: no improvement despite recent advances in diabetes care. Diabet Med. 2014;31(2):227-231.
  3. Redondo MJ, Libman I, Maahs DM, Lyons SK, SaracoM, Reusch J, Rodriguez H, DiMeglio LA. The Evolution of Hemoglobin A1c Targets for Youth With Type 1 Diabetes: Rationale and Supporting Evidence. Diabetes Care. 2021;44(2):301-312.
  4. Tran VT, Harrington M, Montori VM, Barnes C, Wicks P, Ravaud P. Adaptation and validation of the Treatment Burden Questionnaire (TBQ) in English using an internet platform. BMC Med. 2014;12:109.

Is Diabetes Improvement Too Complex for Patients?

Repost from Linkedin with permission from Jerry Penso

For the past year, I have been exploring strategies for diabetes care improvement with The American Medical Group Foundation (AMGF), planning our next national campaign to address this chronic disease. As a result I have had many conversations with national diabetes experts, medical group endocrinologists, primary care physicians, and quality improvement specialists. In AMGF’s first national campaign, Measure Up/Pressure Down®, we promoted systematic care delivery improvements to improve high blood pressure detection and control. With the aid of this improvement framework, teams were able to figure out what to improve, measure it, and test changes in the system to see if they made a difference. Our goal is to create the same kind of targeted improvement in the care of diabetes.

Recently, I became familiar with two AMGA members that are demonstrating outstanding performance in diabetes management: Cornerstone Healthcare, PA, in North Carolina and Geisinger Health Systems in Pennsylvania. These two health systems have achieved better quality for tens of thousands of patients with diabetes through careful workflow redesign—automating manual work, delegating duties to non-physician staff, standardizing treatment algorithms, and measuring key outcomes to report back to their physicians. These efforts have made quantifiable reductions in complications due to poorly controlled diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy, heart attacks, and strokes.

Two conversations in the past month have begun to alter my thinking about AMGF’s upcoming campaign. One was with Lorraine Stiehl, Consultant, Stiehlworks and Board Member, JDRF who is an advocate for people with diabetes and also works closely with organizations that promote patient empowerment, like diaTribe and Diabetes Hands. What struck me after talking with Ms. Stiehl was the tremendous yearning among patients for better conversations about the day-to-day existence living with diabetes. They look to their healthcare professionals for information, care, and support, yet many are not finding the current system responsive to their daily needs. So many are turning to social media in greater and greater numbers to address these unmet needs, especially emotional support.

I was also impressed by a conversation with Dr. Victor Montori, an endocrinologist who serves as director of late-stage translational research for the Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Dr. Montori is a leading proponent of minimally disruptive medicine (, an approach that seeks to advance patient goals for health, health care, and life. He emphasized the need for care teams to design interventions that respect the capacity of patients and caregivers, and systematically reduce the burden of treatment. Today’s diabetes care increasingly involves complex treatment regimens, yet these recommendations often ignore the tremendous burden this places on a patient with chronic conditions.

The question I now ponder is how we move the needle for populations of patients with diabetes, while honoring our patients’ personal needs, wishes, values, and capacity for change. We’ll want to promote systemic, standardized approaches to performance improvement because we know many patients with diabetes are not at optimal target range and are at risk for serious complications. At the same time however, we must continue to be vigilant in developing interventions that do not create undue burdens or unrealistic expectations for patients, care teams, or health systems.

Jerry Penso

Jerry Penso is Chief Medical and Quality Officer at American Medical Group Association

Tres Dias Por Nada

La historia de Juan, paciente peruano con diabetes

Marcia Moreano Sáenz MD1,2, María de los Angeles Lazo MD1,3, Álvaro Taype Rondán MDMiguel Moscoso Porras PT1, J Jaime Miranda MD, MSc, PhD1

1 CRONICAS Center of Excellence in Chronic Diseases, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru (

2 Family Medicine, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia

3 Unidad de Conocimiento y Evidencia (CONEVID), Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru

En el Perú, el sistema de salud público nacional se caracteriza por ser de difícil acceso para poblaciones de bajo nivel económico, con un sistema de citas deficiente que se traduce en esperas prolongadas, una mala calidad de atención que se limita a la prescripción, y un inadecuado seguimiento de la enfermedad. Esto es especialmente perjudicial para aquellos que sufren de enfermedades crónicas como la diabetes, que requieren evaluaciones continuas y educación al paciente.

Para ilustrar esta situación, exploramos el recorrido de un paciente que debe acceder al sistema de salud público peruano para ser atendido en el Servicio de Endocrinología de un hospital nacional:

Juan, un padre de familia de 56 años de escasos recursos económicos, normalmente atiende sus necesidades de salud en un “puesto de salud” (nombre que designa a los establecimientos de salud del primer nivel de atención en el Perú) y afortunadamente cuenta con el seguro integral de salud (SIS),1 que se otorga en el Perú a pacientes calificados como pobres o extremadamente pobres.

Juan ha sido recientemente diagnosticado de diabetes y el médico del puesto de salud le comunica que debe ser atendido en un hospital nacional de mayor complejidad (Ministerio de Salud de Perú)2 porque las pruebas adicionales y los medicamentos básicos no están disponibles en su puesto. Para ello, le entrega una “hoja de referencia” (formato necesario para la atención en el hospital mediante el SIS). De esta manera, Juan coordina con su familia y pide permiso en su trabajo para realizar el viaje hacia el hospital más cercano, que en este caso le queda a un par de horas de distancia de su hogar. Hasta entonces, deberá adquirir, si cuenta con el dinero necesario, sus medicamentos en una farmacia privada.

El día coordinado, Juan acude al hospital con su “hoja de referencia” para solicitar una cita. Se acerca a la oficina de admisión, en donde después de hacer una cola por 20 minutos, el personal administrativo le indica que lo más pronto que su cita puede ser programada es en dos meses. Juan no tiene otra opción más que esperar esa fecha  pues no cuenta con los recursos económicos necesarios para acceder al sistema de salud privado.

Finalmente llega el día de su cita, ese día sale de su casa a las 6 de la mañana y llega al hospital dos horas más tarde. Como paciente nuevo, presenta sus documentos (hoja de referencia, copia de documento nacional de identidad y copia de la ficha de inscripción SIS) en la ventanilla de admisión. Luego de 30 minutos recibe un número de historia clínica, un carnet de atención, un formato único de atención e instrucciones de ir al área de consultorios.

Al encontrar el consultorio de Endocrinología, Juan se aproxima a la ventanilla de recepción y entrega sus documentos al personal administrativo quien le indica que será llamado para ser atendido de acuerdo al orden de  llegada. Después  de dos horas de espera, Juan es llamado al consultorio, donde le toman medidas de  talla y peso. El médico lo recibe en su consultorio por 15 minutos,  le indica algunos exámenes de laboratorio, le entrega una receta escrita a mano. Juan no entiende para que son los exámenes o que dice la recete pero siente que el médico no tiene tiempo para explicarle. También le da  una cita después de contar con los resultados, cita que muy probablemente tendrá lugar dos meses después. En esta cita, Juan no pudo preguntar sobre su pronóstico, su dieta, uso de ciertos productos “naturales” que le han recomendado sus familiares, y otras inquietudes.

Al salir de la consulta, Juan acude a la farmacia del hospital para recoger sus medicamentos y tiene que esperar  15 minutos para entregar la receta y otros 15 minutos para recibir los medicamentos. Posteriormente acude al laboratorio para realizarse los estudios solicitados pero le indican que los mismos se deben realizar el día siguiente a las siete de la mañana. Finalmente llega a su casa aproximadamente a la 2 de la tarde.

Para poder hacerse los exámenes, Juan debe solicitar permiso en su trabajo por un día más. Al día siguiente, acude al laboratorio. Después de 40 minutos de espera puede entregar la orden médica y pasa a la sala de  toma de muestras, donde es atendido 30 minutos después.  Al terminar se le informa que él o un familiar podrán recoger sus resultados a partir de las 2 de la tarde del día siguiente.

Al finalizar este largo trayecto, podemos concluir que:

  • Juan perdió por lo menos tres días de trabajo, lo cual afecta aún más su ya débil estado financiero.
  • Fue sometido de manera repetida a largos tiempos de espera.
  • Fue atendido brevemente.
  • No ha obtenido información ni educación sobre diabetes y autocuidado de su salud.
  • No ha tenido una evaluación ni completa ni multidisciplinaria.
  • No tendrá un control adecuado de la glucosa, pues en la posta de salud más cercana a su domicilio no cuentan con lo necesario para realizar su monitoreo de glucosa periódico y si cuentan con este recurso el paciente deberá pagar dinero por cada control, ya que su seguro de salud no cubre éste servicio.
  • Deberá esperar aproximadamente dos meses para la siguiente consulta médica.

Si bien este caso es lamentable existen situaciones aún más complicadas. Por ejemplo, si Juan fuera un habitante de una zona rural se enfrentaría a más limitaciones como la falta de personal médico en la posta de salud cercana, la lejanía del hospital más próximo que puede estar a varias horas o incluso días de viaje, y un acceso mucho más limitado a medicamentos, que deberá adquirir en alguna ciudad cercana. Si Juan fuera analfabeto o tuviera un nivel de educación muy escaso tendría mayor dificultad para comprender las instrucciones brindadas y navegar el complejo sistema de salud.

Por otro lado, si Juan contara con los recursos económicos necesarios para acceder al sistema de salud privado, podría obtener una atención médica en menos tiempo (ver figura 1), aunque la calidad de la misma no sea necesariamente superior. Estos datos reflejan las inequidades en el acceso a los servicios de salud que se da en países de bajos y medianos ingresos económicos como el Perú.



* La información para construir la Figura 1 se ha elaborado en base a la técnica de observación participante y tomando como referencia información de dos estudios de investigación3,4

De esta manera es claro que en el manejo de enfermedades crónicas como la diabetes, que requieren educación, un seguimiento estrecho y un manejo multidisciplinario, requiere de manera urgente la identificación de barreras de acceso a la atención ( y la implementación de medidas de salud pública que permitan facilitar el acceso al sistema de salud de manera universal, y una atención oportuna, con  la calidad y el respeto que merecen. También revela como las inequidades e ineficiencias del sistema faltan el respeto a la capacidad – limitadísima en muchos casos – que tiene los pacientes mas necesitados para acceder al cuidado medico e implementar el autocuidado.

Agradecimientos: Ana María Castañeda Guarderas y René Rodríguez Gutiérrez por su amable revisión a este artículo.


  1. Seguro Integral de Salud. Visitado el 24/03/2015 en el URL:
  2. Ministerio de Salud – Perú. Visitado el 24/03/2015 en el URL:
  • Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática. Encuesta Nacional de Satisfacción de Usuarios del Aseguramiento Universal en Salud 2014. Visitado el 24/03/2015 en el URL: file:///C:/Users/Administrador/Downloads/libroINEI-IMPO%20(1).pdf

Cárdenas María Kathia, Morán Dulce, Beran David, Miranda J Jaime. Identifying the Barriers for Access to Care and Treatment for Arterial Hypertension and Diabetes in Lima, Peru. Executive Summary. Visitado el 25/03/2015 en el URL:

Can adverse economic circumstances have a negative impact in the glycemic control of patients with diabetes?

Can adverse economic circumstances have a negative impact in the glycemic control of patients with diabetes? Mounting evidence suggests that this may be the case (1, 2). A recently published cross-sectional study identified food insecurity and cost-related medication underuse as unmet basic needs that were independently associated with poor diabetes control (1). Although associations between diabetes-related complications (e.g., lower extremity amputations or acute cardiovascular events) and specific material need insecurities were not investigated in this study, the data presented by Berkowitz and collaborators suggests that patients with diabetes struggling with financial burdens could be particularly vulnerable to this disease and may need a higher use of health care resources (1). Clearly, there are no simple solutions for these social problems that require the implementation of population-based strategies that go well beyond the scope and limits of public health. So, what can we do as clinicians? Certainly activism to end poverty, build prosperity, and advocate for universal health coverage would be welcomed. Also, we can recognize that the principles of minimally disruptive medicine offer opportunities that are particularly valuable in populations with limited financial capacity. Excessively demanding treatment plans in patients with diabetes and other associated chronic comorbidities – that include the use of multiple costly medications and unnecessarily investigations – can lead to the disruption of patients’ wellbeing, poor treatment adherence, and eventually the development of negative outcomes (3). In patients struggling with material need insecurities we should expect some limitations in their capacity, and therefore, it is in this group that health care should be the least disruptive as possible.

Oscar L. Morey-Vargas MD
Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition Fellow
Mayo Clinic, Rochester


  1. Berkowitz SA, Meigs JB, DeWalt D, Seligman HK, Barnard LS, Bright OM, Schow M, Atlas SJ, Wexler DJ. Material Need Insecurities, Control of Diabetes Mellitus, and Use of Health Care Resources: Results of the Measuring Economic Insecurity in Diabetes JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Dec 29. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.6888.
  2. Ngo-Metzger Q, Sorkin DH, Billimek J, Greenfield S, Kaplan SH. The effects of financial pressures on adherence and glucose control among racial/ethnically diverse patients with diabetes. J Gen Intern Med. 2012;27(4):432-437.
  3. May C, Montori VM, Mair FS. We need minimally disruptive medicine. BMJ. 2009 Aug 11;339:b2803. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b2803.