Diabetic Neuropathy Is a Substantial Burden in People With Type 1 Diabetes and Is Strongly Associated With Socioeconomic Disadvantage: A Population-Representative Study From Scotland


To assess the contemporaneous prevalence of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) in people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in Scotland and study its cross-sectional association with risk factors and other diabetic complications.


We analyzed data from a large representative sample of adults with T1D (N = 5,558). We assessed the presence of symptomatic neuropathy using the dichotomized (≥4) Michigan Neuropathy Screening Instrument Patient Questionnaire score. Logistic regression models were used to investigate associations between DPN and risk factors, as well as with other complications.


The burden of DPN is substantial with 13% prevalence overall. Adjusting for attained age, diabetes duration, and sex, the odds of DPN increased mainly with waist-to-hip ratio, lipids, poor glycemic control (odds ratio 1.51 [95% CI 1.21–1.89] for levels of 75 vs. 53 mmol/mol), ever versus never smoking (1.67 [1.37–2.03]), and worse renal function (1.96 [1.03–3.74] for estimated glomerular filtration rate levels <30 vs. ≥90 mL/min/1.73 m2). The odds significantly decreased with higher HDL cholesterol (0.77 [0.66–0.89] per mmol/L). Living in more deprived areas was associated with DPN (2.17 [1.78–2.65]) for more versus less deprived areas adjusted for other risk factors. Finally, individuals with prevalent DPN were much more likely than others to have other diabetes complications.


Diabetic neuropathy remains substantial, particularly affecting those in the most socioeconomically deprived groups. Those with clinically manifest neuropathy also have a higher burden of other complications and elevated levels of modifiable risk factors. These data suggest that there is considerable scope to reduce neuropathy rates and narrow the socioeconomic differential by better risk factor control.

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