Patient Markers of Successful Diabetes Management

Amy T. Cunningham, Pouya Arefi, Alexzandra T. Gentsch, Geoffrey D. Mills, Marianna D. Lanoue, Amanda M.B. Doty, Brendan G. Carr, Judd E. Hollander, Kristin L. Rising

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE | For individuals with diabetes, health status may not align with A1C targets. Patients may use non-clinical targets when assessing their diabetes management success. Identifying these targets is important in developing patient-centered management plans. The purpose of this study was to identify patient markers of successful diabetes management among patients in an urban academic health system. METHODS | A secondary analysis of semistructured interviews was completed with 89 adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Participants had a recent diabetes-related emergency department (ED) visit or hospitalization or were primary care patients with an A1C >7.5%. Interviews were conducted to saturation. Demographic data were collected via self-report and electronic medical records. Interviews were analyzed using conventional content analysis. This analysis focused on patient perceptions of successful management coded to “measuring management success.” RESULTS | Although most participants cited A1C or blood glucose as a marker of successful diabetes management, they had varied understanding of these metrics. Most used a combination of targets from the following categories: 1) A1C, blood glucose, and numbers; 2) engagement in medical care; 3) taking medication and medication types; 4) symptoms; 5) diet, exercise, and weight; and 6) stress management and social support. CONCLUSION | Individuals not meeting glycemic goals and/or with recent diabetes-related ED visits or hospitalizations had varied understanding of A1C and blood glucose targets. They used multiple additional markers of successful management and had a desire for management discussions that incorporate these markers. These measures should be incorporated into their care plans along with clinical targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-282
Number of pages8
JournalDiabetes Spectrum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


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