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Monday 27 May 2019
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T2D patients reporting better communication by their physician show improved self-care

‘Encouraging’ and ‘collaborative’ physician communication is linked to better patient outcomes

New IntroDia™ Survey patient data was presented at American Diabetes Association’s®  (ADA) 75th Scientific Sessions. IntroDia™ is an initiative of Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly in partnership with the International Diabetes Federation.

New research shows that the quality of patient-physician communication, at the moment when additional oral type II diabetes (T2D) medication is prescribed (‘add-on’), is linked to future patient self-care and wellbeing. Data from the IntroDia™ Survey have quantitatively demonstrated this link in the largest international survey of its kind, using responses from 4235 people with T2D across 26 countries.*

The perceived quality of the ‘add-on’ conversation by patients was linked to all self-management outcomes surveyed. (1) Patients who recalled better quality of communication when interacting with their physicians reported improved self-care and emotional wellbeing, including improved diabetes-related emotional distress, frequency of exercise and diet, as well as better medication adherence.
Dr Matthew Capehorn, UK, GP and member of the IntroDia™ Advisory Panel commented, “If not framed properly, the introduction of additional oral medication for type II diabetes management can be a challenging moment for patients. An encouraging conversation with a physician can make a real difference to subsequent self-management. We now have data that confirm how important the quality of communication is during this ‘add-on’ conversation.

Analysis of the conversations indicated patients distinguish three types of physician statements that contribute to communication quality: ‘encouraging’, ‘collaborative’ and ‘discouraging’. When physicians used ‘encouraging’ and ‘collaborative’ statements, patients’ perception of the communication quality significantly improved. Using ‘discouraging’ statements had the opposite effect.
‘Encouraging’ communication included statements such as:

  • “My doctor explained that the new medication would help to control my diabetes.”
  • “My doctor told me that the new medication would improve my quality of life.”

 ‘Collaborative’ communication examples were:

  • My doctor invited me to ask questions about my new medication.
  • My doctor helped to adjust my treatment plan so I could do it in my daily life.

‘Discouraging’ communication included statements like:

  • My doctor told me that my diabetes is out of control.
  • My doctor told me that I needed more medication because I had failed to take good enough care of myself.

The analysis also looked into which statements were most frequently recalled by patients from their ‘add-on’ conversations. ‘Encouraging’ statements were recalled by up to 85% of patients. ‘Discouraging’ statements were recalled by up to 53% of patients.

The patient data demonstrate that physicians are already doing a good job, by most often using ‘encouraging’ and ‘collaborative’ statements and using ‘discouraging’ statements less frequently. However, ‘add-on’ conversations can still be further improved to help patients make the positive behavioural changes required to manage type II diabetes,” concluded Dr Capehorn.

*4235 people with T2D, out of the total 10,319 included in the IntroDia™ Survey, met the necessary criteria to be asked about ‘add-on’ moment conversations. All 10,319 survey participants were asked about their early ‘diagnosis’ conversations.


  1. Capehorn M et al. Physician-patient Communication at Prescription of an Additional Oral Agent for Type 2 Diabetes (T2D): Link Between Key Conversation Elements, Physician Empathy and Patient Outcomes – Insights From the Global IntroDia™ Study. Poster 63-LB at the 75th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association® (ADA) 2015, Boston, USA.

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