Four steps I take when starting patients on insulin
I have always wanted to determine the source of my patients’ fear of insulin—Is it the needle? Is it the medication itself? Is it the fact that they will have to self-administer? Or is it, maybe, fear of accepting a long-term disease that they will have to live with and manage?
As discussed by Dr Young in his view from the clinic, psychological resistance to insulin therapy—whereby patients express concern or fear about starting insulin—is common, particularly once you’ve had the conversation about the need to start insulin.
Regardless of the reasons for fearing insulin, I knew, as a diabetologist, that insulin therapy would be central to my practice, and that my patients and I would need to find a way to overcome their anxiety about the treatment. In fact, I wanted my patients to develop a mindset that insulin could be relied upon to control their diabetes when other methods fail.
So, once I’ve determined that a patient under my care will benefit from insulin therapy, and the dust has settled on the conversation about initiating treatment, what next?
Below, I have summarized four of the approaches that I regularly use to reassure and empower patients that are starting insulin for the first time.