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05-02-2018 | Type 2 diabetes | Article

General practitioners’ attitudes towards patients with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes: a qualitative study

BMC Family Practice

Authors: Anja Wollny, Michael Pentzek, Oliver Rudolf Herber, Heinz-Harald Abholz, Jürgen in der Schmitten, Andrea Icks, Stefan Wilm, Elisabeth Gummersbach

Publisher: BioMed Central



Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) with poor glycaemic control can represent a challenge from the perspective of the general practitioner (GP). Apart from patient-sided factors, the understanding of GPs’ attitudes may provide ideas for improved management in these patients. The aim of this study is to reveal attitudes of GPs towards T2DM patients with poor metabolic control.


Qualitative research in German general practice; 20 GPs, randomly chosen from participants of a larger study; in-depth narrative interviews, audio-recorded and transcribed; inductive coding and categorisation in a multi-professional team; abstraction of major themes in terms of attitudinal responses.


1) Orientation on laboratory parameters: GPs see it as their medical responsibility to achieve targets, which instil a sense of security. 2) Resignation: GPs believe their efforts are in vain and see their role as being undermined. 3) Devaluation of the patient: GPs blame the “non-compliance” of the patients and experience care as a series of conflicts. 4) Fixed role structure: The expert GP on the one hand, the ignorant patient on the other. 5) Solidarity with the patient: GPs appreciate a doctor-patient relationship in terms of partnership.


The conflict GPs experience between their sense of duty and feelings of futility may lead to perceptions such as personal defeat and insecurity. GPs (and patients) may benefit from adjusting the patient-doctor relationship with regard to shared definitions of realistic and authentic goals.

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