New survey highlights difference in health priorities between diabetics, doctors

ANN ARBOR, Mich. A new survey conducted by the University of Michigan Medical School revealed that diabetes patients and their doctors do not necessarily see eye-to-eye when it comes to health concerns.

Researchers at U-M and Veterans Affairs surveyed 92 doctors and their nearly 1,200 patients who had diabetes and hypertension. Of the 714 pairs, 28% did not prioritize health conditions the same way. The disparity was strongest among the sickest patients, the researchers said.

Despite the fact that both patients and doctors named diabetes and hypertension their biggest concerns, 38% of doctors were more likely to rank hypertension as the most important, while only 18% of diabetics said it was the most important. Patients also were more likely to consider such symptoms as pain and depression to be relevant to their condition.

The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

"If a patient and their doctor do not agree on which of these issues should be prioritized, it will be difficult for them to come up with an effective treatment plan together," said lead author Donna M. Zulman, M.D., a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Michigan Medical School and researcher at the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Ann Arbor.