To determine factors associated with dropout and relapse during chronic diabetes care.
Private practice outpatient treatment-education program for adult diabetes was surveyed. Retrospective analysis was done, involving 422 patients for up to 3 yr.
Of the patients in the study, 12% dropped out after the initial visit, and 33% of the residual cohort dropped out during each subsequent 6-mo period. Factors associated with dropout included distance from home to clinic > 100 miles, lack of insulin treatment, and cigarette smoking. In patients who remained in follow-up, a significant decrease in HbA1C occurred during the first 6 mo, but 40% of the patients relapsed between 6 and 12 mo. Frequency of relapse declined as time passed. Relapse was more frequent in women.
Dropout from treatment and relapse after temporary improvement account for a substantial amount of uncontrolled diabetes, and overcoming the obstacles of dropout and relapse has potential for significant improvement in diabetes care.