Toward Defining a Cutoff Score for Elevated Fear of Hypoglycemia on the Hypoglycemia Fear Survey Worry Subscale in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes

T.R.S. Hajós, W.H. Polonsky, F. Pouwer, L. Gonder-Frederick, F.J. Snoek

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OBJECTIVE To determine a cutoff score for clinically meaningful fear of hypoglycemia (FoH) on the Hypoglycemia Fear Survey Worry subscale (HFS-W). RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Data on the HFS-W, history of hypoglycemia, emotional well-being (World Health Organization-5 well-being index), and distress about diabetes symptoms (Diabetes Symptom Checklist-Revised) were available from Dutch patients with type 2 diabetes who were treated with oral medication or insulin (n = 1,530). Four criteria were applied to define a threshold for clinically meaningful FoH: 1) modal score distribution (MD criterion), 2) scores 2 SDs above the mean (SD criterion), 3) concurrent validity with severe hypoglycemia and suboptimal well-being (CV criterion), and 4) an elevated score (≥3) on more than one HFS-W item (elevated item endorsement [EI criterion]). Associations between the outcomes of these approaches and a history of severe hypoglycemia and suboptimal well-being were studied. RESULTS Of the 1,530 patients, 19% had a HFS-W score of 0 (MD criterion), and 5% reported elevated FoH (HFS-W ≥ mean + 2 SD; SD criterion). Patients with severe hypoglycemia reported higher HFS-W scores than those without (25 ± 20 vs. 15 ± 17; P <0.001). Patients with suboptimal well-being reported higher HFS-W scores than those with satisfactory well-being (20 ± 18 vs. 13 ± 15; P <0.001, CV criterion). Elevated FoH (defined by the EI criterion) was seen in 26% of patients. The SD and EI criteria were the strongest associated with history of severe hypoglycemia. The EI criterion was the strongest associated with suboptimal well-being. CONCLUSIONS Although no definite cutoff score has been determined, the EI criterion may be most indicative of clinically relevant FoH in this exploratory study. Further testing of the clinical relevance of this criterion is needed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-108
JournalDiabetes Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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