Good-quality evidence has shown that early glycaemic, blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol control in people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) leads to better outcomes. In spite of that, diseases control have been inadequate globally, and therapeutic inertia could be one of the main cause. Evidence on therapeutic inertia has been lacking at primary care setting. This retrospective cohort study aimed to determine the proportions of therapeutic inertia when treatment targets of HbA1c, blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol were not achieved in adults with T2D at three public health clinics in Malaysia.
The index prescriptions were those that when the annual blood tests were reviewed. Prescriptions of medication were verified, compared to the preceding prescriptions and classified as 1) no change, 2) stepping up and 3) stepping down. The treatment targets were HbA1c < 7.0% (53 mmol/mol), blood pressure (BP) < 140/90 mmHg and LDL-cholesterol < 2.6 mmol/L. Therapeutic inertia was defined as no change in the medication use in the present of not reaching the treatment targets. Descriptive, univariable, multivariable logistic regression and sensitive analyses were conducted.
A total of 552 cohorts were available for the assessment of therapeutic inertia (78.9% completion rate). The mean (SD) age and diabetes duration were 60.0 (9.9) years and 5.0 (6.0) years, respectively. High therapeutic inertia were observed in oral anti-diabetic (61-72%), anti-hypertensive (34-65%) and lipid-lowering therapies (56-77%), and lesser in insulin (34-52%). Insulin therapeutic inertia was more likely among those with shorter diabetes duration (adjusted OR 0.9, 95% CI 0.87, 0.98). Those who did not achieve treatment targets were less likely to experience therapeutic inertia: HbA1c ≥ 7.0%: adjusted OR 0.10 (0.04, 0.24); BP ≥ 140/90 mmHg: 0.28 (0.16, 0.50); LDL-cholesterol ≥ 2.6 mmol/L: 0.37 (0.22, 0.64).
Although therapeutic intensifications were more likely in the presence of non-achieved treatment targets but the proportions of therapeutic inertia were high. Possible causes of therapeutic inertia were less of the physician behaviours but might be more of patient-related non-adherence or non-availability of the oral medications. These observations require urgent identification and rectification to improve disease control, avoiding detrimental health implications and costly consequences.
Number NCT02730754 , April 6, 2016.