Pharmacists can help people who have diabetes

Bernadette Flood
School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

People with intellectual disabilities (ID) may be prescribed a lot of medicines. However, people with ID may be 'invisible' to pharmacists. It is therefore important that pharmacists know about medicine use among people with ID.

What did you do in your research?
A pharmacist interviewed six people with ID and asked them what they knew about medicines. Two people had diabetes, one of which found it difficult to manage his diabetes, medicines, and insulin. As a result, the pharmacist and the project supervisor published an article to let people know about the problems that a person with ID and diabetes may encounter if responsible for their own 'self-care'.

What did you find out?
The respondent with ID and diabetes had to inject insulin and check his blood glucose. He also had to take tablets that were in a blister pack but he did not appear to know how to use this pack. He did not store his insulin properly. Furthermore, he often had low sugar and had to get glucagon injections. He had a lot of spare insulin injections, which can be dangerous and also costs a lot of money.

What are the take-home messages?
Pharmacists can help people who have diabetes in various ways. For example, they can provide information and advice about medicines and injecting and storing insulin. Pharmacists, doctors, nurses and others may not realize how hard it is for a person with ID to manage diabetes. Pharmacists should ask people if they have any problems. Further, people with ID should talk to their pharmacists about medicines, diabetes, and insulin.

To learn more about these findings contact Bernadette Flood.

Full Journal Article
Flood, B., & Henman, M. C. (2015). Case study: hidden complexity of medicines use: information provided by a person with intellectual disability and diabetes to a pharmacist. British Journal of Learning Disabilities.