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INTRODUCTION: Monitoring and treatment of type 2 diabetes in South Africa usually takes place in primary care using random blood glucose testing to guide treatment decisions. This study explored the feasibility of using point-of-care haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) testing in addition to glucose testing in a busy primary care clinic in Cape Town, South Africa. SUBJECTS: 185 adults aged 19-88 years with type 2 diabetes. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Participants recruited to this mixed methods cohort study received a point-of-care HbA1c test. Doctors were asked to use the point-of-care HbA1c result for clinical decision-making. Qualitative interviews were held with clinical staff. RESULTS: Point-of-care HbA1c test results were obtained for 165 participants of whom 109 (65%) had poor glycaemic control (>8% HbA1c, 64 mmol/mol). Medical officers reported using a combination of HbA1c and blood glucose 77% of the time for clinical decision-making. Nurses found the analyser easy to use and doctors valued having the HbA1c result to help with decision-making. DISCUSSION: Our results suggest that 30% of patients may have received inappropriate medication or not received necessary additional medication if random blood glucose alone had been used in routine appointments. Clinicians valued having access to the HbA1c test result to help them make treatment decisions.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





diabetes & endocrinology, primary care, public health