The impact of an integrated diabetes and kidney service on patients, primary and specialist health professionals in Australia: A qualitative study

Edward Zimbudzi, Clement Lo, Tracy Robinson, Sanjeeva Ranasinha, Helena J. Teede, Tim Usherwood, Kevan R. Polkinghorne, Peter G. Kerr, Gregory Fulcher, Martin Gallagher, Stephen Jan, Alan Cass, Rowan Walker , Grant Russell, Greg Johnson, Sophia Zoungas

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To address guideline-practice gaps and improve management of patients with both diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD), we involved patients, health professionals and patient advocacy groups in the co-design and implementation of an integrated diabetes-kidney service.


In this study, we explored the experiences of patients and health-care providers, within this integrated diabetes and kidney service.


5 focus groups and 2 semi-structured interviews were conducted amongst attending patients, referring primary health professionals, and attending specialist health professionals. Maximal variation sampling was used for both patients and referring primary health professionals to ensure an equal representation of males and females, and patients of different CKD stages. All discussions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim, before being thematically analysed independently by 2 researchers.


The mean age (SD) for specialist health professionals, primary care professionals and patients who participated was 45 (11), 44 (15) and 68 (5) years with men being 50%, 80% and 76% of the participants respectively. Key strengths of the diabetes and kidney service were noted to be better integration of care and a perception of improved health and management of health. Whilst some aspects of access such as time between referral and initial appointment and having fewer appointments improved, other aspects such as in-clinic waiting times and parking remained problematic. Specialist health professionals noted that health professional education could be improved. Patient self-management was also noted by to be an issue with some patients requesting more information and some health professionals expressing difficulty in empowering some patients.


Health professionals and patients reported that a co-designed integrated diabetes kidney service improved integration of care and improved health and management of health. However, some aspects of the process of care, health professional education and patient self-management remained challenging.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0219685
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019


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