Blood glucose self-monitoring in non-insulin-treated type 2 diabetes: a qualitative study of patients' perspectives

Elizabeth A. Peel, Odette Parry, Margaret Douglas, Julia Lawton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Self-monitoring of blood glucose is controversial in the management of type 2 diabetes. Some research suggests that self-monitoring improves glycaemic control, whereas other research is sceptical about its value for people with type 2 diabetes who are not on insulin. Although blood glucose meters are widely available and used by this group, patients' own views are absent from the debate. Aim: To explore the pros and cons of glucose monitoring from the patients' perspectives. Design of study: Qualitative repeat-interview study. Setting: Patients were recruited from 16 general practices and three hospital clinics within four local healthcare cooperatives in Lothian, Scotland. Method: Interview data from 40 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the previous 6 months were analysed using thematic analysis informed by grounded theory. We report findings from round 1 and round 2 interviews. Results: Glucose monitoring can heighten patients' awareness of the impact of lifestyle; for example, dietary choices, on blood glucose levels. Glucose monitoring amplifies a sense of 'success' or 'failure' about self-management, often resulting in anxiety and self-blame if glucose readings remain consistently high. Moreover, monitoring can negatively effect patients' self-management when readings are counter-intuitive. Conclusion: Our analysis highlights the importance of understanding the meanings that newly diagnosed patients attach to glucose self-monitoring. To maximise the positive effects of self-monitoring, health professionals should ensure that patients understand the purpose of monitoring and should clarify with patients how readings should be interpreted. © British Journal of General Practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-188
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number500
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


  • blood glucose
  • blood glucose self-monitoring
  • glucose testing
  • patient education
  • qualitative study
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus


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