Single, community-based blood glucose readings may be a viable alternative for community surveillance of HbA1c and poor glycaemic control in people with known diabetes in resource-poor settings

Daniel D. Reidpath, Nowrozy K. Jahan, Devi Mohan, Pascale Allotey

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Background: The term HbA 1c (glycated haemoglobin) is commonly used in relation to diabetes mellitus. The measure gives an indication of the average blood sugar levels over a period of weeks or months prior to testing. For most low- and middle-income countries HbA1c measurement in community surveillance is prohibitively expensive. A question arises about the possibility of using a single blood glucose measure for estimating HbA1c and therefore identifying poor glycaemic control in resource-poor settings. Design: Using data from the 2011–2012 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, we examined the relationship between HbA1c and a single fasting measure of blood glucose in a non-clinical population of people with known diabetes (n=333). A linear equation for estimating HbA1c from blood glucose was developed. Appropriate blood glucose cut-off values were set for poor glycaemic control (HbA1c≥69.4 mmol/mol). Results: The HbA1c and blood glucose measures were well correlated (r=0.7). Three blood glucose cut-off values were considered for classifying poor glycaemic control: 8.0, 8.9, and 11.4 mmol/L. A blood glucose of 11.4 had a specificity of 1, but poor sensitivity (0.37); 8.9 had high specificity (0.94) and moderate sensitivity (0.7); 8.0 was associated with good specificity (0.81) and sensitivity (0.75). Conclusions: Where HbA1c measurement is too expensive for community surveillance, a single blood glucose measure may be a reasonable alternative. Generalising the specific results from these US data to low resource settings may not be appropriate, but the general approach is worthy of further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31691
Number of pages7
JournalGlobal Health Action
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2016


  • blood glucose
  • community surveillance
  • developing countries
  • diabetes
  • glycaemic control
  • HbA

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