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Insulin Delivery and Glucose Monitoring Methods for Diabetes Mellitus: Comparative Effectiveness

Clinician Summary – Sept. 4, 2012

Insulin Delivery and Glucose Monitoring Methods for Diabetes Mellitus: Comparative Effectiveness

Formats

Table of Contents

Focus of Research for Clinicians

In response to a public request regarding the benefits and harms of current modes of intensive insulin therapy (continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion [CSII] vs. multiple daily injections [MDI]) and modes of blood glucose monitoring (real-time continuous glucose monitoring [rt-CGM] vs. self-monitoring of blood glucose [SMBG]), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) contracted with the Evidence-based Practice Center at Johns Hopkins University to conduct a systematic review of these modalities. Forty-one studies in 44 publications met the inclusion criteria. Outcomes including glycemic control, hypoglycemia, quality of life, and clinical outcomes were assessed in individuals with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or pre-existing diabetes in pregnancy. The review did not include pregnant women with gestational diabetes and patients with maturity-onset diabetes of the young in its evaluation. The full report, listing all studies, is available at www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/glucose.cfm. This summary, based on the full report of research evidence, is provided to assist in decisionmaking along with consideration of a patient’s values and preferences. However, reviews of evidence should not be construed to represent clinical recommendations or guidelines.

Background

Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases resulting from defects in insulin secretion from the pancreatic beta-cells, resistance to insulin action at the tissue level, or both. The resultant hyperglycemia, if untreated, can lead to long-term complications, including microvascular complications (retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy) and macrovascular complications (coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease). In pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes, poor glycemic control is associated with poorer pregnancy outcomes, including fetal anomalies, macrosomia, delivery complications, stillbirth, and neonatal hypoglycemia.

The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is currently 7.7 percent and is expected to increase to nearly 10 percent by 2050. Daily insulin therapy is vital in the 5 to 10 percent of patients with type 1 diabetes and may be required in the 90 to 95 percent of patients with type 2 diabetes.

For tight glycemic control, insulin is administered according to the basal-prandial strategy. This can be done either via MDI or CSII. Glycemic control with intensive insulin therapy (either via MDI or CSII) has been shown to reduce the risk of the microvascular and macrovascular complications of diabetes. However, tight glycemic control can be associated with an increased risk of hypoglycemia for glycemic control, while intensive insulin therapy can lead to weight gain.

While long-term glycemic control in individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is assessed by measuring hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), fasting and 2-hour postprandial blood glucose are measured for short-term adjustments in insulin therapy. Monitoring of blood glucose is performed either through SMBG or rt-CGM.

The comparative effectiveness of CSII and MDI in young and old patients with type 1 diabetes, patients with type 2 diabetes, and pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes have not been systematically assessed. Additionally, the relative benefits of glucose monitoring with SMBG versus rt-CGM remain to be systematically evaluated.

Conclusion

Both CSII and MDI had similar effects on glycemic control and rates of severe hypoglycemia in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes and adults with type 2 diabetes. In contrast, some studies suggested that CSII was superior to MDI for glycemic control in adults with type 1 diabetes with no difference in hypoglycemia and weight gain. Limited evidence suggested that measures of quality of life or treatment satisfaction improved in patients with type 1 diabetes. The approach to intensive insulin therapy can therefore be individualized to the preferences of appropriate patients that will maximize their quality of life. Studies suggested that rt-CGM was superior to SMBG in lowering HbA1c in nonpregnant individuals with type 1 diabetes, particularly when compliance was high, without affecting the risk of severe hypoglycemia. rt-CGM/CSII in the form of sensor-augmented pumps was superior to MDI/SMBG in lowering HbA1c in the research studies analyzed in this review; however, other combinations of these insulin delivery and glucose monitoring modalities were not evaluated.

Clinical Bottom Line

Insulin Delivery: MDI Versus CSII

Children and Adolescents With Type 1 Diabetes

Adults With Type 1 Diabetes

Adults With Type 2 Diabetes

Pregnant Women With Pre-existing Type 1 Diabetes

Glucose Monitoring: rt-CGM Versus SMBG

Children and Adults With Type 1 Diabetes

*Basal insulin mimics normal physiological insulin secretion; bolus or meal-time insulin mimics the rapid release of insulin in response to meals.

rt-CGM Plus CSII (Sensor-Augmented Pump) Versus MDI/SMBG

Children and Adults With Type 1 Diabetes


95% CI = 95-percent confidence interval; CSII = continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion; MDI = multiple daily injections; rt-CGM = real-time continuous glucose monitoring; SMBG = self-monitoring of blood glucose
Strength of Evidence Scale

evidence high

High confidence that the evidence reflects the true effect. Further research is very unlikely to change our confidence in the estimate of effect.

evidence medium

Moderate confidence that the evidence reflects the true effect. Further research may change our confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate.

evidence low

Low confidence that the evidence reflects the true effect. Further research is likely to change our confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate.

evidence insufficient

Evidence either is unavailable or does not permit a conclusion.

Gaps in Knowledge

Several shortcomings exist in the studies examining the effects of insulin delivery and glucose monitoring devices reviewed for this report.

These shortcomings highlight the need for future large, well-designed studies with participants of all ages and from diverse ethnic groups, standard outcome measures including measures of vascular complications and quality of life, and long followup duration and for studies in pregnant women with pre-existing type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

What To Discuss With Your Patients

  • The nature of his/her diabetes and the potential role of insulin therapy in its treatment
  • The role of other lifestyle changes in managing the patient’s diabetes
  • The importance of glycemic control in managing the patient’s diabetes
  • The role of routine blood glucose monitoring in maintaining appropriate glycemic control
  • The available strategies for insulin delivery and blood glucose monitoring
  • The available evidence for the effectiveness of MDI versus CSII for insulin delivery
  • The available evidence for the effectiveness of SMBG versus rt-CGM for glucose monitoring
  • The available evidence for the effectiveness of rt-CGM plus CSII (sensor-augmented pump) versus MDI/SMBG
  • The potential risks associated with intensive insulin therapy such as hypoglycemic events and weight gain, their impact on quality of life, and strategies for their management
  • The potential out-of-pocket costs that the patient might incur with certain insulin delivery and glucose monitoring modalities based on his/her insurance coverage

Resource for Patients

Methods for Delivering Insulin and Monitoring Glucose, A Review of the Research for Children, Teens, and Adults With Diabetes is a companion to this clinician research summary. It can help adults with diabetes or caregivers of adults or children with diabetes talk with their health care professional about the benefits and harms of currently used modes of intensive insulin therapy and/or the mode of blood glucose monitoring used to manage diabetes.

Source

The information in this summary is based on Methods for Insulin Delivery and Glucose Monitoring: A Comparative Effectiveness Review, Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 57, prepared by the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. HHSA 290-2007-10061-I for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, June 2012. Available at www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/glucose.cfm

This summary was prepared by the John M. Eisenberg Center for Clinical Decisions and Communications Science at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. It was written by Geetha Achanta, Ph.D., Thomas Workman, Ph.D., Ashok Balasubramanyam, M.D., and Michael Fordis, M.D.

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