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More Frequent Doctor Visits May Benefit Diabetes Patients

MONDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetes patients who visit a primary care doctor every few weeks achieve quicker control of their blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, researchers have found.

Control of these levels reduces the risk of diabetes-related complications, but most diabetes patients do not have these levels under control. Current treatment guidelines do not outline how often diabetes patients should see a doctor.

To determine whether more frequent doctor visits could help diabetes patients get control of their condition in a shorter period of time, researchers analyzed data from 26,496 adult diabetes patients who visited primary care doctors in Boston for at least two years between January 2000 and January 2009.

For patients who saw their doctor every one to two weeks, the median (midpoint) times to achieving their treatment goals were: 4.4 months without insulin and 10.1 months with insulin for blood glucose; 1.3 months for blood pressure; and 5.1 months for cholesterol.

The median times for patients who saw their doctor every three to six months were: 24.9 months without insulin, 52.8 months with insulin for blood glucose; 13.9 months for blood pressure; and 32.8 months for cholesterol, said Fritha Morrison, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.

The study is published in the Sept. 26 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

More research is needed because "the retrospective nature of this study prevents us from establishing a causal relationship between encounter frequency and patient outcomes," the study authors pointed out in a journal news release.

More information

The American College of Physicians offers advice about living with diabetes.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Sept. 26, 2011

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