Background and Aims
In patients with congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI), recurrent hypoglycaemia can lead to longstanding neurological impairments. At present, glycaemic monitoring is with intermittent fingerprick blood glucose testing but this lacks utility to identify patterns and misses hypoglycaemic episodes between tests. Although continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is well established in type 1 diabetes, its use has only been described in small studies in patients with CHI. In such studies, medical perspectives have been provided without fully considering the views of families using CGM. In this qualitative study, we aimed to explore families’ experiences of using CGM in order to inform future clinical strategies for the management of CHI.
Ten patients with CHI in a specialist centre used CGM for twelve weeks. All were invited to participate. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine families in whom patient ages ranged between two and seventeen years. Transcripts of the audio-recorded interviews were analysed using an inductive thematic analysis method.
Analysis revealed five core themes: CGM’s function as an educational tool; behavioural changes; positive experiences; negative experiences; and design improvements. Close monitoring and retrospective analysis of glucose trends allowed for enhanced understanding of factors that influenced glucose levels at various times of the day. Parents noted more hypoglycaemic episodes than previously encountered through fingerprick tests; this new knowledge prompted modification of daily routines to prevent and improve the management of hypoglycaemia. CGM use was viewed favourably as offering parental reassurance, reduced fingerprick tests and predictive warnings. However, families also reported unfavourable aspects of alarms and questionable accuracy at low glucose levels. Adolescents were frustrated by the short proximity range for data transmission resulting in the need to always carry a separate receiver. Overall, families were positive about the use of CGM but expected application to be tailored to their child’s medical condition.
Patients and families with CHI using CGM noticed trends in glucose levels which motivated behavioural changes to reduce hypoglycaemia with advantages outweighing disadvantages. They expected CHI-specific modifications to enhance utility. Future design of CGM should incorporate end users’ opinions and experiences for optimal glycaemic monitoring of CHI.