Here are some tips to enhance the success of starting patients on insulin.

Key Messages about Starting Insulin

  • Always position insulin as an effective treatment for diabetes.  Emphasize that most people with diabetes will need insulin at some point.  Threatening patients who are noncompliant with insulin may lead to resistance when the patient actually needs to start taking it.
  • Patients are more likely to accept insulin therapy if their physician strongly recommends it.
  • Explain clearly that suggesting the patient start insulin does not signify a sudden worsening in diabetes, but rather, it is a natural part of the progression of diabetes.  This means that, as time goes on, different and more medicines are needed in order to keep blood glucose in target range and to stay healthy.
  • As much as possible, help the patient feel that starting insulin is his or her decision.
  • When meeting with patients to initiate the use of insulin, encourage an immediate injection to reduce the anxiety of anticipated pain.
  • Provide education on the following topics at the time the patient begins insulin: how insulin works, dose, storage, sharps disposal and how to treat low blood glucose.

The Injection Training Tools provided above were independently developed by Joslin Diabetes Center, a nonprofit teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School ( Joslin does not endorse products or services, including those of BD.  About Joslin