Focus on mental health needed in young people with type 2 diabetes

Mental health disorders are the largest contributing factor to hospital stays in people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a young age, according to a new study published in PLOS Medicine.

Among those diagnosed while under the age of 40 years, 38.4% of hospital bed-days were caused by mental health disorders.

“Efforts to provide integrated care and effectively manage risk factors, with a focus on mental health disorders, are urgently needed in young people with type 2 diabetes,” the researchers write in their paper.

They also found that type 2 diabetes is associated with increased risk of hospital bed-day rate for a wide range of medical conditions.

According to the authors, hospital bed-day rate “provides direct estimates on risk of total bed-days associated with a medical condition and indirectly reflects disease severity and inpatient resource use”.

“Previous studies examining the association between type 2 diabetes and medical conditions focused on the risk of time-to-first event, which does not capture an individual’s disease burden, as many medical conditions can lead to multiple hospital admissions,” they write.

The researchers analysed data from 758,254 people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and 758,254 matched controls without diabetes, in Hong Kong between 2002 and 2018.

By comparing age- and sex-specific rates of hospital bed-day rates between the two groups, they discovered that women had a significantly higher relative risk for urinary tract infection and stomach ulcer, but a lower relative risk for chronic kidney disease and pancreatic disease, compared to men.

These findings highlight the need to consider age and sex differences when planning preventative and therapeutic strategies for type 2 diabetes to reduce hospital bed-days.

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