Purpose: To assess the knowledge of diabetes mellitus among diabetes patients and to identify knowledge deficits and patient specific characteristics that are associated with this knowledge.
Methods: This was a descriptive cross sectional observational clinic study conducted among previously diagnosed patients with diabetes attending the Consultant Outpatient Departments (COPD) of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH). The study employed the use of a 14-item Diabetes Knowledge Test (DKT), developed by the University of Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Centre (MDRTC) and a demographic questionnaire to assess patient’s knowledge and its association with some patient specific variables.
Results: The overall mean knowledge score of the subjects was 5.54 ± 2.3 (39.5 % ± 16.7 %) range 7 - 79 %. There was no statistically significant difference in knowledge scores with respect to family history of the disease, recent training in DM, age and sex p > 0.05. Respondents without any formal education scored significantly higher in the DKT (7.0 ± 2.27) followed by those with post graduate and University education 6.67 ± 2.41 and 6.65 ± 2.41 respectively. Higher score on the DKT was significantly correlated with duration of disease awareness (r = 0.217; 95 %CI = 0.02 – 0.39, p <0.05) but not associated with improved glucose control as measured by FBG levels. (r = -0.073; 95 %CI = -0.277 - 0.137, p > 0.05). Only 12 (13.5 %) of the respondents had FBG levels with the normal range of 5.6 – 6.9 mmole/L.
Conclusion: Respondents’ knowledge of diabetes mellitus based on the DKT was very poor. There were knowledge deficits which relate to misconceptions in the diabetics diet and knowledge of blood glucose monitoring with glycosylated haemoglobin test. Longer duration of diabetes, irrespective of educational status, was associated with higher knowledge score.