May 2017

High neuropathy prevalence at rural free clinic underscores unmet need

In the moment: Diabetes

By Jordana Bieze Foster

The prevalence of diabetic peripheral neuropathy at a free clinic in rural South Carolina is significantly higher than averages reported in the literature, according to findings that underscore the need to improve diabetes education and foot care in underserved populations.

Investigators from the Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy in Clinton, SC, assessed the prevalence of diabetic neuropathy and painful diabetic neuropathy in 111 patients attending a free clinic for diabetes education at the school’s Wellness Center.

More than two thirds (67%) of the patients had diabetic peripheral neuropathy—a much higher prevalence than previously reported values ranging from 28% to 48%. Of the diabetic neuropathy cases, only 29% were documented by a referring physician. Nearly one-quarter (23.4%) of the total study population had painful diabetic neuropathy; of these, only 46.2% were documented.

The findings, published in April by the Journal of Pain Research, suggest pharmacist-run free clinics could play a key role in identifying and educating patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy in underserved rural populations.


Pruitt J III, Moracho-Vilrriales C, Threatt T, et al. Identification, prevalence, and treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy in patients from a rural area in South Carolina. J Pain Res 2017; 10:833-843.

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