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Thinley Dorji, Pempa Lhamo, Tshering Tshering, Lungten Zangmo, Kencho Choden, Deki Choden and Kesang Namgyal

Abstract

Background

The burden of diabetes has increased rapidly with an increasing cost of treatment.

Objectives

To describe the glycemic control, injection practices, and treatment adherence among diabetic patients treated with insulin.

Methods

This cross-sectional study was conducted using a convenience sampling method at the 3 tertiary referral hospitals in Bhutan. Sociodemographic, injection practices, and clinical details were collected. Good glycemic control was defined as glycated hemoglobin A (HbA1c) <7% if available or fasting blood sugar 70–130 mg/dL and 2 h postprandial blood sugar <180 mg/dL if HbA1c values were unavailable. Medication adherence was assessed using the Morisky, Green and Levine (MGL) scale. The injection technique was assessed using a 10-item checklist.

Results

We studied 207 patients. Good glycemic control was achieved by only 58 (28.0%) of patients. Using the MGL scale score, the objective adherence with insulin therapy was mostly low to medium and a gross discordance was with self-declared adherence (P < 0.001). The injection technique was fair to poor in half of the participants. Those with good injection techniques also had good adherence to medication (P = 0.025, adjusted odds ratio = 4.4, 95% confidence interval 1.2–16.4). The majority (154, 74.4%) had self-injected insulin, while the remaining were dependent on their home caregivers. Forty percent of the participants used storage practices that were not recommended. The disposal of the used insulin needles was generally unsafe.

Conclusions

Glycemic control and adherence to insulin administration recommendations were poor. The injection technique needs to be improved and standardized, and methods of safe disposal of sharps need to be developed.