Recent Survey Finds Many Adults with Diabetes Unaware of Their Increased Risk for Certain Serious Illnesses

Many adults with diabetes are unaware of their increased risk for certain serious illnesses, according to a recent national, online consumer awareness survey sponsored by Merck and the American Diabetes Association, and conducted by Harris Poll.

In the survey of 1,003 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older diagnosed with diabetes, respondents were twice as likely to recognize the potential for adults with diabetes to develop kidney disease (72%) and heart disease (67%), than serious infectious diseases such as pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia, meningitis, or an infection of the blood (36%), compared to adults without diabetes.

While published data show that adults with diabetes are approximately three times more likely to develop pneumococcal disease compared to healthy adults of the same age, only 35% of respondents believed they were at least somewhat personally likely to get pneumococcal pneumonia/pneumococcal disease. In addition, less than half of those surveyed (43%) responded that they had discussed the risk factors for pneumococcal pneumonia/pneumococcal disease with their doctor.

“These data illustrate that patients with diabetes are not fully aware of their risk of other serious illnesses,” says American Diabetes Association Immediate Past Chief Scientific & Medical Officer Robert E. Ratner, MD,” and that there is a critical communication gap between patients and their health care providers about the risks for serious illness, including pneumococcal pneumonia or pneumococcal disease, flu and hepatitis B for adults with diabetes. Because people with diabetes have increased risks for these diseases and more complicated medical courses when they contract them, health care providers should seek to initiate discussions with patients to bridge the information gap, as recommended in our Standards of Care.”