Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Many Insulin Users Don't Use Prescribed Dose

Adults With Diabetes Often Stint on Prescribed Insulin Injections

WebMD Health News

Jan. 5, 2005 -- Adults with type 2 diabetes only use about three-fourths of the prescribed insulin doses recommended by their doctors, according to new research.

The study showed that a large group of older adults prescribed insulin injections to control their type 2 diabetes averaged using only about 77% of their prescribed dose.

Researchers say that finding suggests a good intention to follow the prescribed insulin regimen, but it was not enough to keep their disease adequately controlled. The study also showed that the average blood sugar level among the insulin users was higher than recommended.

Although in many people with type 2 diabetes the initial treatment is an oral medication, daily insulin injections may eventually be prescribed for about a third of older men with the condition in order to achieve adequate blood sugar control. The number of daily injections may range from one to four or more, which may need to be timed in relation to meals.

Improper Use Leads to Inadequate Control

Researchers say the daily insulin injection burden or fear of injections can make it difficult for many users to manage their insulin prescription. But they say it's unclear what sort of impact improper use of insulin injections has on blood sugar control. Have diabetes and on insulin? Find out if your lifestyle could be hurting you.

To answer that question, researchers analyzed insulin use and blood sugar levels among a group of more than 6,000 men who were treated at 12 Veterans Administration medical centers in the U.S. The rate of insulin use during a two-year period was calculated using pharmacy data, and the patients' average blood sugar levels were tracked during this period.

The study showed that insulin injection use averaged about 77% of prescribed amounts among the men. Average three month blood sugar levels as measured by HbA1C were 7.98%, which is above the 7% threshold recommended by the Veterans Administration guidelines and above the level recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

Researchers say those findings are in line with previous studies that showed most patients prescribed oral diabetes medications took about three-fourths of their drugs as prescribed.

They say these adherence rates reflect good overall diabetes self-management, but the resulting average elevated blood sugar levels suggest that the rate of insulin use, the prescribed insulin dose, or both were inadequate to achieve good disease control in this group of adults with type 2 diabetes.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner