Access to insulin pump that improves lives varies

  • 24/09/2016
Insulin pump
Insulin pump

The use of insulin pumps varies significantly between District Health Board regions and the most socio-economically disadvantaged, males, and older patients are less likely to have one.

The pumps have several advantages compared with multiple daily injections, including improved quality of life and fewer diabetes-related complications.

They've been funded by Pharmac since September 2012 for patients who meet certain clinical criteria.

Research by the University of Otago published in the international diabetes journal, Acta Diabetologica, found Maori, Pacific, and Asian people with Type 1 diabetes are significantly less likely to be using a pump than New Zealand Europeans.

The most socio-economically disadvantaged, males, and older patients were also less likely to be using a pump and there were significant differences in use across DHB regions.

Differences in insulin pump use by ethnicity were present even when age, sex, region, and socio-economic factors were taken into account, according to the lead authors, Erin McKergow and Lianne Parkin.

"Our study was based on anonymised summary data from the Ministry of Health so we don't know whether the observed disparities in insulin pump use are due to differences in funding eligibility, decisions by doctors, or patient choice," Dr Parkin says.

"However, it is possible that patients with the greatest need are receiving less intensive management. More research is needed to explore this further."