Office visits in the United States for diabetes rose 20% from 2005 to 2010, with the largest increase in adults in their mid-20s to mid-40s, according to a new data brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
Nearly 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, putting them at risk for other chronic conditions, such as heart disease, eye disease, and stroke, Jill J. Ashman, PhD, and colleagues from the NCHS note in the brief.
On an annual basis, the cost of diabetes in the United States approaches $245 billion, and patients with diabetes have medical expenditures 2.3 times those of patients without diabetes.
The researchers analyzed recent trends in office visits by patients with diabetes using the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), a nationally representative survey of visits to nonfederal office-based physicians (excluding anesthesiologists, radiologists, and pathologists).
They found that office-based physician visits by patients with diabetes rose from 94.4 million in 2005 to 113.3 million in 2010 (a 20% increase). Visits by patients with diabetes made up about 11% of all office-based physician visits in 2010.
The number of office visits increased during the study period for all age groups except for those younger than 25 years. The largest percentage increase (34%) occurred in people in the 25- to 44-year age range.
However, the volume of visits was higher for older adults; individuals aged 65 and older made 53.7 million visits in 2010 compared with 2.6 million visits made by those younger than 25.
The researchers did not see any marked change in the rate of office visits by patients with diabetes in any age group during the study period. The highest rate in 2010 was among those aged 65 and older (1380 visits per 1000 persons) and lowest in those younger than 25 (20 visits per 1000).
“Diabetes is not the only health concern for the majority of patients who have it, with 87% of visits being made by patients who have additional chronic conditions,” Dr. Ashman and colleagues say.
Regardless of age, they found that patients with diabetes use “extensive health resources,” making frequent trips to the doctor and often receiving multiple prescriptions.
One of the federal Healthy People 2020 goals is to reduce the disease and economic burden of diabetes. “Continuing to examine office-based physician visits by patients with diabetes is especially important given changes in standards of care that may influence such visits,” Dr. Ashman and colleagues say.