Diabetes Testing Not Always Helpful, Study Finds

For people with Type 1 diabetes, monitoring their own blood sugar levels and taking insulin is a constant part of life.

But the great majority of people with diabetes have Type II, which usually develops later in life. They rarely take insulin and regularly monitoring their blood sugar may do more harm than good.

In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service spends millions of dollars to help people with Type II diabetes to learn to monitor themselves. But researchers in Northern Ireland found that self-monitoring really didn't help and made some patients feel worse.

The researchers followed 184 newly-diagnosed Type II diabetics. After training sessions on lifestyle changes, half the patients were given a blood sugar monitor, while half were told just to have their blood-sugar checked at the visits both groups paid to doctors every few weeks.

A year later, the diabetics were managing their blood sugar equally well, but the self-monitoring patients reported being more anxious and depressed.

Researchers said that that the patients found self monitoring "uncomfortable, intrusive and unpleasant" and felt frustrated at having to discipline themselves without any obvious benefits.