Research Article

What happens to defaulters from a diabetic clinic?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 291 doi: (Published 09 November 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;291:1330
  1. M S Hammersley,
  2. M R Holland,
  3. S Walford,
  4. P A Thorn


    The annual rate at which patients defaulted from follow up at the Wolverhampton diabetic clinic between 1971 and 1981 was 4.1% overall and 3.5% in white patients. In 1982 a study was started to discover what happened to white patients, born after 1919, who defaulted from the hospital clinic. There were 162 defaulters, of whom 19 had died. Of the remaining 143 patients, 19 were attending another hospital diabetic clinic, 22 had moved out of the area, and 28 refused to participate in the study. Seventy four agreed to participate: 39 were treated with diet, 15 with oral hypoglycaemic agents, and 20 with insulin. They were matched for sex, age, treatment, and duration of diabetes with patients attending the clinic. Non-insulin dependent defaulters were significantly more overweight at diagnosis (40% v 25%; p less than 0.05) and remained more obese. They developed significantly higher diastolic blood pressure (94 v 86 mm Hg; p less than 0.02) and higher haemoglobin A1 (HbA1) concentrations (11.7% v 8.4%; p less than 0.01). They had significantly more neuropathy at reassessment (15 v 6 out of 54; p less than 0.05) and a greater incidence of new retinopathy (p less than 0.02), which correlated with their higher diastolic blood pressures (p less than 0.01) and HbA1 concentration (p less than 0.02). In defaulters who were treated with insulin only the prevalence of neuropathy was significantly different from that in controls (p less than 0.05). Defaulters received minimal medical supervision and suffered greater morbidity than regular attenders at the clinic.