Diabetes: Physical and Functional Disability

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Evelyn Wong MBBS (Hons) MPH PhD Candidate

Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
Level 4, 99  Commercial Rd, Melbourne. VIC 3004

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: Researchers at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute reviewed previously published literature on the association between diabetes and the risk of developing physical and functional disability. In this study, disability was defined by a person’s difficulty walking; carrying out daily activities such as using a telephone or transport, managing finances, shopping; or attending to basic self-care needs such as eating, dressing and bathing. Although there have been many previous studies on diabetes and disability, the findings have varied and to date, no one has pooled all studies together for a combined measure of risk. From 26 relevant studies, we measured the pooled effect of the association between diabetes and disability. We found that diabetes increased the risk of disability by 50-80% compared to those without diabetes and this result was consistent across all types of disability.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Answer: Overall we were not surprised with the extent of the increase in risk of disability associated with diabetes as we know diabetes has a number of associated health risks. We were somewhat surprised by the consistency with which disability increased the risk of disability across all types of physical disability.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Answer: It is important to work on lifestyle changes to decrease other risk factors for disability, such as weight management and keeping physically active, as well as maintaining good control of your diabetes.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Answer: We recommend further investigation into how delaying the onset of diabetes, as well as good control of diabetes, will impact on decreasing a person’s risk of disability from diabetes. Further research into the mechanisms by which diabetes leads to disability is also important.


Diabetes and risk of physical disability in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Dr Evelyn Wong MBBS,Kathryn Backholer PhD,Emma Gearon BBioMedSc,Jessica Harding BBioMedSc,Rosanne Freak-Poli PhD,
Christopher Stevenson PhD,Anna Peeters PhD
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology – 24 July 2013
DOI: 10.1016/S2213-8587(13)70046-9

Last Updated on September 19, 2013 by Marie Benz MD FAAD