A Real-World Observational Study of Time to Treatment Intensification Among Elderly Patients with Inadequately Controlled Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

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BACKGROUND—Among elderly patients, the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is complicated by population heterogeneity and elderly-specific complexities. Few studies have been done to understand treatment intensification among elderly patients failing multiple oral antidiabetic drugs (OADs). OBJECTIVE—To examine the association between time to treatment intensification of T2DM and elderly-specific patient complexities. METHODS—In this observational, retrospective cohort study, elderly (aged ≥ 65 years) Medicare beneficiaries (n = 16,653) with inadequately controlled T2DM (hemoglobin A1c ≥ 8.0% despite 2 OADs) were included. Based on the consensus statement for diabetes care in elderly patients published by the American Diabetes Association and the American Geriatric Society, elderlyspecific patient complexities were defined as the presence or absence of 5 geriatric syndromes: cognitive impairment; depression; falls and fall risk; polypharmacy; and urinary incontinence. RESULTS—Overall, 48.7% of patients received intensified treatment during follow-up, with median time to intensification 18.5 months (95% CI = 17.7–19.3). Median time to treatment intensification was shorter for elderly patients with T2DM with polypharmacy (16.5 months) and falls and fall risk (12.7 months) versus those without polypharmacy (20.4 months) and no fall risk (18.6 months). Elderly patients with urinary incontinence had a longer median time to treatment intensification (18.6 months) versus those without urinary incontinence (14.6 months). The median time to treatment intensification did not significantly differ by the elderly-specific patient complexities that included cognitive impairment and depression. However, after adjusting for demographic, insurance, clinical characteristics, and health care utilization, we found that only polypharmacy was associated with time to treatment intensification (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.10; 95% CI = 1.04–1.15; P = 0.001). CONCLUSIONS—Less than half of elderly patients with inadequately controlled T2DM received treatment intensification. Elderly-specific patient complexities were not associated with time to treatment intensification, emphasizing a positive effect of the integrated health care delivery model. Emerging health care delivery models that target integrated care may be crucial in providing appropriate treatment for elderly T2DM patients with complex conditions.