INTRODUCTION: Diabetes is a highly prevalent disease worldwide and represents a challenge for patients and healthcare systems. This population-based study evaluated diabetes burden in Italy in 2018 by assessing all aspects of outpatient and hospital care.RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We investigated data of 11 300 750 residents in local health districts contributing to ARNO Diabetes Observatory (~20% of Italian inhabitants). All administrative healthcare claims were analyzed to gather information on access to medical resources. Subjects with diabetes, identified by antihyperglycemic drug prescriptions, disease-specific copayment exemption and hospital discharge codes, were compared with age, sex and residency-matched non-diabetic individuals.RESULTS: We identified 697 208 subjects with ascertained diabetes, yielding a prevalence of 6.2% (6.5% in men vs 5.9% in women, p<0.001). Age was 69±15 (mean±SD). As compared with non-diabetic subjects, patients with diabetes received more prescriptions of any drugs (+30%, p<0.001), laboratory tests, radiologic exams and outpatient specialist consultations (+20%, p<0.001) and were hospitalized more frequently (+86%, p<0.001), with a longer stay (+1.4 days, p<0.001). Although cardiovascular diseases accounted for many hospital discharge diagnoses, virtually all diseases contributed to the higher rate of hospital admissions in diabetic subjects (235 vs 99 per 1000 person-years, p<0.001). Healthcare costs were >2-fold higher in subjects with diabetes, mainly driven by hospitalizations and outpatient care related to chronic complications rather than to glucose-lowering drugs, diabetes-specific devices, or metabolic monitoring.CONCLUSIONS: The burden of diabetes in Italy is particularly heavy and, as a systemic disease, it includes all aspects of clinical medicine, with consequent high expenses in all areas of healthcare.
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