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New global survey highlights impact of diabetes management on family members

PLAINSBORO, N.J., Sept. 10, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a new international survey of 4,300 family members of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, many report worrying about their loved ones having low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia or 'hypos'.1 The results from the TALK-HYPO survey, published September 9 in Diabetes Therapy, show that up to 64% of family members of people living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes report feeling worried or anxious about the risk of their loved one experiencing low blood sugar,  highlighting the impact of low blood sugar to the whole family.1

This survey also captured responses from family members who helped their loved ones manage their hypoglycemia. Nearly 3 in 4 (74%) of the respondents report that because they spent time helping family members manage hypoglycemic events, they spent less time on other activities.1

Low blood sugar is a well-known side effect of diabetes treatment, especially when using insulin, and can cause a range of symptoms including confusion, trembling, sweating, increased heart rate, difficulty with concentration and speech, and in severe cases lead to seizures, coma or even death.2-5 

"There has been little research undertaken on the wider significance of low blood sugar to the family members of people living with diabetes," said Dr. Stewart Harris, Professor in Family Medicine/Division of Endocrinology/Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, The University of Western Ontario, and lead investigator for the TALK-HYPO survey. "But something as simple as having an open and honest conversation may be incredibly beneficial. This survey suggests that family members may help inspire more conversations about low blood sugar within the family, as well as with healthcare providers."

In fact, 76% of those surveyed believe that conversations about low blood sugar would be helpful.1 Importantly, respondents also feel such discussions will bring them closer together and increase their understanding of how they can better help manage such events in the future (85%).1

To further explore the patient-caregiver experience, Novo Nordisk conducted a series of filmed experiments, where people living with diabetes and their family members shared their personal thoughts and feelings about low blood sugar. The films, available at, provide a closer look at these conversations between patients with diabetes and their families. The website also provides recommendations for patients on starting conversations about low blood sugar within the family, as well as with healthcare providers.

About the TALK-HYPO survey1
The TALK-HYPO survey was funded by Novo Nordisk and aimed to explore perceptions of low blood sugar among family members of people living with diabetes and how conversations about low blood sugar may contribute to diabetes care.

The questionnaire was completed by 4,300 relatives (37% were parents/step-parents and 18% were spouses/partners) of people living with diabetes (type 1 or type 2, taking insulin and/or other anti-diabetic medicines) across nine countries.

On behalf of Novo Nordisk, Ipsos interviewed 4,300 participants online. All participants were adult family members of people aged 18 and above with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who have been taking insulin or a secretagogue for at least 12 months. The survey was carried out across nine countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, UK, US and Denmark. Fieldwork took place from April 8-May 6, 2019.

There are limitations associated with the survey methods. Selection bias may have been introduced (due to non-random sampling or non-participation) as family members with loved ones who have experienced severe hypoglycemia may have been more motivated to respond to the survey than those whose family members have not experienced severe hypoglycemia. Consequently, the observed estimates of hypoglycemia frequency may have been artifactually inflated. Additionally, hypoglycemic events reported by family members in the survey may exceed those documented in previous research, especially compared to those evaluating disclosure from people living with diabetes. Finally, based on the design of the survey, temporality could not be assessed nor established.

About Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company that's been making innovative medicines to help people with diabetes lead longer, healthier lives for 95 years. This heritage has given us experience and capabilities that also enable us to help people defeat other serious diseases including obesity, hemophilia and growth disorders. We remain steadfast in our conviction that the formula for lasting success is to stay focused, think long-term and do business in a financially, socially and environmentally responsible way. With U.S. headquarters in New Jersey and production and research facilities in four states, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 5,000 people throughout the country. For more information, visit novonordisk.usFacebook and Twitter.

© 2019 Novo Nordisk         All rights reserved.      US19NNM00063           September 2019


  1. Ratzki-Leewing, A., Parvaresh Rizi, E. & Harris, S.B. Diabetes Ther (2019).
  2. Seaquist ER, Anderson J, Childs B, et al. Hypoglycemia and diabetes: a report of a workgroup of the American Diabetes Association and the Endocrine Society. Diabetes Care. 2013; 36:1384-1395.
  3. International Hypoglycaemia Study Group. Diagnosis of hypoglycaemia. Available online at Last accessed: August 2019.
  4. Cryer PE. Hypoglycemia, functional brain failure, and brain death. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2007; 117:868-870.
  5. Ahrén B. Avoiding hypoglycemia: A key to success for glucose-lowering therapy in type 2 diabetes. Vascular Health and Risk Management. 2013; 9:155-163.


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SOURCE Novo Nordisk