Pharmacists improve diabetes outcomes: a randomized controlled trial.

Pharmacists improve diabetes outcomes: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association 62, no. 3 (2022): 775-782. 

Authors: Wagner, Mary L., Caitlin McCarthy, M. Thomas Bateman, Daniel Simmons, and Katherine M. Prioli 


There is a growing shortage of primary care physicians. Pharmacists can fill the gap, and interdisciplinary teams are being evaluated as part of health care reform. This study aimed to determine whether adding a pharmacist to an interprofessional health team will improve diabetes outcomes. 

In this 2-phase pilot study, Medicaid-eligible patients with diabetes were randomized to receive standard of care (control arm) or standard of care plus the care of a pharmacist (intervention arm) for 12 months (phase 1). The primary outcome was change in glycated hemoglobin (A1C) from baseline. Secondary outcomes included identifying and correcting medication therapy problems (MTPs) for comorbid conditions, adherence to preventive care visits, health care utilization, self-rated health, and satisfaction surveys. After phase 1, patients in the control arm who did not achieve an A1C of < 8% were eligible to enroll into phase 2 where they received treatment with a pharmacist for 6 months. 

Of the 239 patients enrolled, 122 completed phase 1. At 12 months, intervention patients’ mean A1C was 1.85 percentage point (pp) below baseline versus 0.94 pp for control (between-group difference 0.91 pp; P = 0.0218). Most control patients (79%) who completed phase 1 and enrolled into phase 2 improved their A1C by more than 1 pp (P < 0.01). The pharmacists completed 806 patient visits and identified 2638 MTPs. Intervention patients were more adherent to preventive care visits with nutrition (P = 0.043), ophthalmology (P = 0.002), and dentistry (P = 0.007). For intervention patients, 78% rated their experience with the pharmacist as excellent whereas, for control patients, 37% rated their experience with their provider as excellent. 

Pharmacist co-management of patients with diabetes can significantly improve glucose control and patient satisfaction. Creative payment models were used to include pharmacists in the interprofessional patient care team. 

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