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International survey reveals shared burden of hypoglycaemia for people living with diabetes and their families

A new international study shows that 64% of family members of people with diabetes are worried or anxious about the risk of hypoglycaemia and that more open conversations may help

Results from the international TALK-HYPO study, which surveyed 4,300 family members of people living with diabetes*, published today in Diabetes Therapy, show that hypoglycaemia, also known as ‘hypos’ or low blood sugar, can be perceived as a substantial burden by family members of people with diabetes.1

64% of family members of people with diabetes report being worried or anxious about the risk of hypoglycaemia, with 66% stating that they think about their family members’ risk of hypos at least once a month. Added to this, 74% of the study participants that were helping their relative with diabetes to manage their hypos, state that they spend less time on, or forgo entirely, other activities such as hobbies, holidays or being with other friends or family as a result. 1

“There has been little research undertaken on how big a burden hypos can actually be – not only for the person living with diabetes – but also for family members,” says Dr Stewart Harris, Professor in Family Medicine/Division of Endocrinology/Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, and lead investigator for the TALK-HYPO study. “As relevant as it is in clinical practice, hypoglycaemia is often overlooked during a regular consultation. This study suggests that having more hypotalks may help improve the lives of people with diabetes and their family members.”

The TALK-HYPO study also highlights the importance of talking more about hypos, as 76% of the respondents believe that having more conversations on this topic can lead to a positive impact on the life of their relative living with diabetes. 1

Over 80% of the respondents feel that talking about hypos with their relatives who live with diabetes brings them closer together. A similar proportion report that hypo conversations help them understand how they can better help with the management of hypos, as well as having a better understanding of what their relative with diabetes is going through.1

Adam Burt, Corporate Affairs Director at Novo Nordisk UK said: This study shows that there is a communications barrier between those living with diabetes and their families, who are worried and anxious about the health impact of hypos on their loved ones. The challenge of managing hypoglycaemia can take a toll on family relationships, impacting on day to day life. We hope these insights will encourage more conversations around hypos within families as well as with their doctors, to help build a better understanding of diabetes and strengthen family relationships in the process.”

When conversations about hypos do happen, study participants report that they initiate nearly half (45%) of these, with 43% reporting that the primary barrier to these conversations is their relative with diabetes not wanting to talk about hypos. 78% of family members who participated in the study also encourage their relative with diabetes to discuss hypos with their HCPs, where prevention and treatment of hypos are the most commonly encouraged topics.1

About the TALK-HYPO study1

? The TALK-HYPO study was funded by Novo Nordisk and aimed to uncover the burden of hypoglycaemia on the family members of people with diabetes and to understand how conversations about hypoglycaemia with family members and HCPs can contribute to diabetes care.

? On behalf of Novo Nordisk, Ipsos interviewed 4,300 participants online. All participants were adult family members of people aged 18 and above living with diabetes (type 1 or type 2, taking insulin and/or secretagogues for at least 12 months).

? The family members included in the study were not restricted to any particular relationship. The majority were parents/step-parents (37%), or spouses/partners (18%) and the average age of respondents was 46.6 years.

? There was an even split between male and female participants (48% vs 52%, respectively).

? The study was carried out across nine countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, UK, US and Denmark. Fieldwork took place from 8 April to 6 May 2019.

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About hypoglycaemia

Hypoglycaemia occurs when blood sugar levels are too low and cannot provide the body’s organs with the energy needed. Hypoglycaemia can cause a range of symptoms including confusion, trembling, sweating, increased heart rate, difficulty with concentration and speech, and in severe cases, it can lead to seizures, coma or even death.2-5

About Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with more than 95 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. This heritage has given us experience and capabilities that also enable us to help people defeat obesity, haemophilia, growth disorders and other serious chronic diseases. Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 41,600 people in 80 countries and markets its products in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube.

Further information:

Juliet Scott 01293 613555

Ed Sexton 01273 712136

* Type 1 or type 2, taking insulin and/or secretagogues


1. Harris SB, Ratzki-Leewing A and Parvaresh E. Family members: the forgotten players in the diabetes care team (The TALK-HYPO Study) Diabetes Therapy. 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. 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.