National Survey of Primary Care Physicians’ Knowledge, Practices, and Perceptions of Prediabetes

  • Eva TsengEmail author
  • Raquel C. Greer
  • Paul O’Rourke
  • Hsin-Chieh Yeh
  • Maura M. McGuire
  • Ann L. Albright
  • Jill A. Marsteller
  • Jeanne M. Clark
  • Nisa M. Maruthur
Original Research



Despite strong evidence and national policy supporting type 2 diabetes prevention, little is known about type 2 diabetes prevention in the primary care setting.


Our objective was to assess primary care physicians’ knowledge and practice regarding perceived barriers and potential interventions to improving management of prediabetes.


Cross-sectional mailed survey.


Nationally representative random sample of US primary care physicians (PCPs) identified from the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile.

Main Measures

We assessed PCP knowledge, practice behaviors, and perceptions related to prediabetes. We performed chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests to evaluate the association between PCP characteristics and the main survey outcomes.

Key Results

In total, 298 (33%) eligible participants returned the survey. PCPs had limited knowledge of risk factors for prediabetes screening, laboratory diagnostic criteria for prediabetes, and management recommendations for patients with prediabetes. Only 36% of PCPs refer patients to a diabetes prevention lifestyle change program as their initial management approach, while 43% discuss starting metformin for prediabetes. PCPs believed that barriers to type 2 diabetes prevention are both at the individual level (e.g., patients’ lack of motivation) and at the system level (e.g., lack of weight loss resources). PCPs reported that increased access to and insurance coverage of type 2 diabetes prevention programs and coordination of referral of patients to these resources would facilitate type 2 diabetes preventive efforts.


Addressing gaps in PCP knowledge may improve the identification and management of people with prediabetes, but system-level changes are necessary to support type 2 diabetes prevention in the primary care setting.


prevention survey research primary care 



The authors thank Mr. Paul Sharrett for his assistance with the survey mailings and data entry.


Johns Hopkins Primary Care Consortium Grant

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This study was exempted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Institutional Review Board.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.


The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva Tseng
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Raquel C. Greer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paul O’Rourke
    • 3
  • Hsin-Chieh Yeh
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Maura M. McGuire
    • 1
    • 5
  • Ann L. Albright
    • 6
  • Jill A. Marsteller
    • 7
  • Jeanne M. Clark
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Nisa M. Maruthur
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of General Internal Medicine The Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, & Clinical ResearchThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Division of General Internal MedicineJohns Hopkins Bayview Medical CenterBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Department of EpidemiologyThe Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Johns Hopkins Community PhysiciansBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Division of Diabetes TranslationCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  7. 7.Department of Health Policy and ManagementThe Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

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