Dissonance in the discourse of the duration of diabetes: A mixed methods study of patient perceptions and clinical practice

Christy J.W. Ledford, Stephanie T. Fulleborn, Jeremy T. Jackson, Tyler Rogers, Haroon Samar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Remission of diabetes can be rewarding for patients and physicians, but there is limited study of how patients perceive the timeline of a disease along the continuum of glycaemic control. Objective: To explore how patients perceive the timeline of diabetes along the continuum of glycaemic control and their goals of care and to identify whether family physicians communicate the principles of regression and remission of diabetes. Design: Mixed methods approach of qualitative semi-structured interviews with purposive sampling followed by cross-sectional survey of physicians. Participants: Thirty-three patients living with prediabetes (preDM) or type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) at medical centres in Georgia and Nevada; and 387 family physicians providing primary care within the same health system. Results: Patients described two timelines of diabetes: as a lifelong condition or as a condition that can be cured. Patients who perceived a lifelong condition described five treatment goals: reducing glucose-related laboratory values, losing weight, reducing medication, preventing treatment intensification and avoiding complications. For patients who perceived diabetes as a disease with an end, the goal of care was to achieve normoglycaemia. In response to patient vignettes that described potential cases of remission and regression, 38.2% of physician respondents would still communicate that a patient has preDM and 94.6% would tell the patient that he still had diabetes. Conclusions: Most physicians here exhibited reluctance to communicate remission or regression in patient care. Yet, patients describe two different potential timelines, including a subset who expect their diabetes can be ‘cured’. Physicians should incorporate shared decision making to create a shared mental model of diabetes and its potential outcomes with patients. Patient or Public Contribution: In this mixed methods study, as patients participated in the qualitative phase of this study, we asked patients to tell us what additional questions we should ask in subsequent interviews. Data from this qualitative phase informed the design and interpretation of the quantitative phase with physician participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1187-1196
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • diabetes remission
  • mixed methods
  • prediabetes
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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