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Use of vascular risk-modifying medications for diabetic patients differs between physician specialties

Shah BR, Hux JE, Laupacis A, Zinman B, Booth GL. Diabet Med. 2006; 23(10):1117-23.


Aims — Although heart disease and stroke are the underlying causes of death in most people with diabetes, vascular risk modification targets are frequently not met. This study examined whether vascular risk-modifying medication utilization for diabetic patients differed among physician specialties.

Methods — A population-based study using administrative data from 105 715 people aged >/= 65 years with newly diagnosed diabetes in Ontario between 1994 and 2001. The receipt of antihypertensive and lipid-lowering drugs was compared between patients who had regular care from endocrinologists, internists/geriatricians and family physicians. Hierarchical logistic regression adjusted for patient-level differences, physician-level differences and patient clustering within physicians.

Results — Only two-thirds of patients received antihypertensive drugs and about one-quarter received lipid-lowering drugs. Compared with patients of family physicians, the adjusted odds ratios for antihypertensive drug use were 1.27 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16, 1.38] for patients of internists/geriatricians and 1.03 (95% CI 0.94, 1.12) for patients of endocrinologists. For lipid-lowering drugs, the odds ratios were 1.20 (95% CI 1.11, 1.30) for patients of internists/geriatricians and 1.58 (95% CI 1.42, 1.76) for patients of endocrinologists.

Conclusions — Despite recommendations to use vascular risk-modifying medication for most older people with diabetes, many patients were not receiving these medications. Medication utilization differed between physician specialties, with family physicians having the lowest rates of use. Notably, although blood pressure control has the greatest evidence of benefit and is cost-saving, endocrinologists did not use antihypertensive drugs more often than family physicians after adjustment for other differences.

Keywords: Diabetes Primary care/clinical practice Geriatrics and aging Drug prescribing behaviour

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