All in the diabetes family: Novo Nordisk addresses loved ones' hypoglycemia worries in new effort

Diabetes blood sugar testing
Novo Nordisk looks to address the burden of hypolgycemia that extends to families of people with diabetes. (Pixabay/stevepb)

Hypoglycemia is a consistent concern for people with diabetes. But the families of Type 1 and Type 2 patients also worry. In fact, a new survey from Novo Nordisk found that 64% of family members feel “worried or anxious” about their loved ones experiencing low blood sugar issues.

To address that and other survey insights, Novo launched with information and resources about hypoglycemia. It includes videos featuring patients and their loved ones who talk individually about how they feel about hypoglycemia. The two perspectives are then revealed to each with Novo’s intention to help “get a real conversation started,” the narrator says. The drugmaker plans to use social media to help drive consumers to the website and videos.

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Novo Nordisk initiated the survey because while it had done research on the burden of hypoglycemia with patients and physicians, it hadn’t asked family members in any large-scale effort, said Todd Hobbs, a physician and chief medical officer for diabetes at Novo Nordisk in North America. He understands those concerns first-hand as the father of a teenager with Type 1 diabetes.

“This is a first from the research perspective and then driving this campaign that will be primarily geared to the family,” he said. “We’ve known that families worry about hypoglycemia, but we haven’t known the extent of the worry, the specifics of what they worry about, their comfort level having conversations (with their loved ones) and their comfort level having conversations with healthcare providers.”

The study results were recently published in Diabetes Therapy. Other findings showed that more than three-fourths of respondants (77%) felt committed to helping their loved one manage hypoglycemia, and of those who are involved in managing it, 48% said it took up too much emotional energy and 43% said it affected their mood.

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The videos with the patients and families add personal insight to the survey findings as families and spouses realize what they didn’t know about the other person’s feelings around hypoglycemia.

“Part of the issue is that family members are worried or concerned and they don’t really open up and talk to their loved one about it. Some do and do it well, but some carry that worry and it affects their lives,” Hobbs said. “It’s important to have that conversation and through the conversation realize that their loved one is doing well and their risk for hypo is low, or if they’re not, talk about ways to support that person other than just worrying.”