A Class of Their Own: The Unique Challenges of Type I Diabetes
While many aspects of diabetes care are universal, patients with type I diabetes (T1D) often face a unique set of obstacles and challenges.
Understanding those challenges can help pharmacists better serve this patient population and can lead to the development of strategies specifically aimed at achieving better adherence and outcomes.
According the American Diabetes Association, approximately 1.25 million Americans – 5% of the population– were living with T1D in 2012. The diagnosis is often made when patients are young, and therapy often begins insulin. These two factors make patient education an essential aspect of the care plan.
Pharmacists can also help patients develop strategies to stay adherent—a common concern for those with diabetes. According to data from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, fewer than a third of people with T1D achieve their target blood glucose levels. However, through intervention, education, and support, pharmacists can serve as an accessible resource for patients with T1D and their families.
“We are the most accessible healthcare professionals,” says Jonathan G. Marquess, PharmD, CDE, FAPhA, the owner of nine pharmacies in Georgia.” The pharmacist is a very accessible person for a patient to talk to about diabetes and for help with access to their insulin and supplies.”
One of the biggest challenges in T1D is that often the disease is a new and unfamiliar to patients and their families.
“Genetics doesn’t really play as large of a role, so some nonadherence you may see can be attributed to the lack of disease state knowledge by the family members,” says Mary Carpenter, PharmD, an ambulatory care clinical pharmacist in Augusta University Family Medicine.