A NATIONAL survey of Australians living with diabetes has found that one in three feel like robots for having to check their blood glucose levels up to six times per day.
Most do not check as often as they should, the survey found, prompting calls for less burdensome diabetic management options.
The number of adults living with diabetes has quadrupled worldwide in under four decades to 422 million, including about 3.61 million people in Australia with diabetes, or pre-diabetes, making it the fastest growing chronic disease in the nation.
The survey of more than 700 people with insulin-treated diabetes found many people find managing their diabetes intrusive, particularly at work or while travelling, and more than 60 per cent wish they could take time out from monitoring.
People with type 1 diabetes are required to check their bloods, on average, six times a day, or three times a day for those with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes which highlights the need to overcome the barriers to glucose monitoring, says Diabetes Australia CEO, Greg Johnson.
“Greater understanding of the attitudes and needs of people living with diabetes will help to identify better ways to support their self-management of this challenging condition,” he said.
Newcastle-raised Lara McSpadden, 17, who left for Adelaide on Wednesday to play in the National Basketball Championships, said she agrees.
Diagnosed with the non-lifestyle related, type 1 diabetes, when she was eight years old, Ms McSpadden has to check her blood glucose levels regularly, including before, during and after her basketball games.
“Before every time I eat, I check myself, and then when I feel low, and I check before a session of basketball, during and after,” she said. “It’s quick but often it’s disruptive.”
While most of her friends has a basic understanding of the lifelong condition, and she felt confident managing her diabetes, but it was restrictive, she said.
“I would prefer to obviously not have to do it. It’s just about allowing a person to have as much freedom and not being restricted to the pricking method of diabetes monitoring.”
Professor Jane Speight, Foundation Director of The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, said most of those involved in the survey said they did not always check their blood glucose as recommended (60 per cent of people with type 1 and 63 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes).
“These findings should not be dismissed because we know that when quality of life is impaired by diabetes self-management tasks, then people have to make tough choices about what is more important to them,” Professor Speight said.