What do patients with diabetes want from their GP?

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  • Patients with diabetes say face-to-face contact with healthcare professionals, length of consultation time, and continuity of care are important aspects of patient-practitioner interactions.
  • Preferences were met less over time as diabetes duration increased.

Why this matters

  • An estimated 4 million people in the United Kingdom have type 2 diabetes, and a further 500,000 are undiagnosed.
  • Previous evidence suggests better patient experiences with practitioners are associated with lower cardiovascular risk factors which, in turn, could lead to a delay in diabetes progression.
  • This study shows that the aspects of care that are valued by patients are increasingly under threat in UK primary care.

Key results

  • Early in the course of their disease, comments on the frequency of face-to-face interactions with healthcare professionals were largely positive.
  • At 10-year follow-up, a large number of participants had not experienced any recent patient-practitioner interactions, and some reported no face-to-face contact with a practitioner over time periods ranging from 10 months to 5 years.
  • Over 10 years, participants made frequent references to inadequate time being available during interactions with practitioners.
  • Participants seemed to place great importance on relational continuity of care than face-to-face contact.
  • Patient preferences were met less over time as diabetes duration increased.

Study design

  • Longitudinal qualitative analysis over 10 years in UK primary care using data from the ADDITION-Cambridge and ADDITION-Plus trials from 2002 to 2016.
  • Funding: Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, Diabetes UK, NHS, National Institute for Health Research.


  • Response rates were low at both sampling points.
  • Trial setting and intervention could have influenced patients’ perceptions of care.