The Team Approach to Type 2 Diabetes: What Research Can Tell Us

bh in Brief

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines. Our primary focus is on three important areas of healthcare: Cardiovascular and Metabolic disease (CVMD); Oncology; and Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity (RIA). AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. AstraZeneca’s Canadian headquarters are located in Mississauga, Ontario. 



1 Research commissioned by AstraZeneca includes:

Burden of Illness of Type 2 Diabetes from a Canadian Employer Perspective. An analysis of three years of claims data (2010-2012) by Cubic Health. Sponsored by AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Great-West Life Assurance Company. Information provided directly to author. October 2013.

Understanding the Burden of Illness of Type 2 Diabetes from Canadian Employers & Employees, by PMG Intelligence. Sponsored by AstraZeneca Canada. Information provided directly to author.

March 2015.


Type 2 diabetes in the workplace is clearly a problem – the number of cases is growing and costs are rising. Addressing the problem requires new knowledge and a new way of thinking – a new direction that focuses more on a team approach and leads to more outcomes-focused, cost effective solutions.

Learning about the Problem

Thanks to recent research commissioned by AstraZeneca,1 the “problem” of type 2 Diabetes in the workplace is becoming clearer. Findings are surprising. In a recent claims analysis, benefit costs for an employee with type 2 diabetes were four times greater than for other employees. A high percentage of these costs were attributed to related conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. In a survey of employees with type 2 diabetes mental health emerged as an important new element in the impact of diabetes in the workplace – over half of respondents said they suffered from depression (55%) or anxiety (52%).Moving forward, such results point to an urgent need for health planners to consider the mental health aspects of diabetes in workplace.  

“Because the link between diabetes and mental health issues is largely unknown to employers, developing workplace solutions to tackle the true impact of diabetes has been a challenge.” 

Finding a Solution

Key to this new direction is a focus on individuals and their specific needs and concerns, taking a team approach and investing in people.To that end, AstraZeneca is investing in a workplace pilot, motivaction,TM a unique and comprehensive health management approach and research study that considers both the physical and psychological aspects of diabetes and yields sustainable outcomes (see insert). 

Using a team approach, researchers will screen some 16,000 employees for type 2 diabetes. What makes motivaction unique vis-á-vis conventional workplace screening programs is a follow-up service with a Certified Diabetes Educator where employees will receive customized support related to diet, exercise, and stress management. It will also include finding a family physician if individuals do not have one and connecting them to their local pharmacy resource to continue receiving support once the pilot is complete.  

Saving Lives

Researchers hope to encourage employers to look beyond traditional health cost management strategies and implement programs such as motivaction. By addressing health cost drivers head-on, employers will benefit in the long run and realize greater sustainability of overall health costs. Helping people before they develop a disease or slowing the progression of a disease through health management and treatment options means keeping people in the workplace longer, and keeping them more engaged and productive. As important, this is how lives are saved – one person at a time.

“Our overarching goal is to show that investing in employees’ health and well-being yields sustainable value for workplaces.” 

MotivactionTM is a unique and comprehensive health management approach that considers the physical and psychosocial aspects of diabetes and yields sustainable outcomes. It is a 6-month workplace initiative, currently underway, aimed at helping people understand and better manage their diabetes risk. The key features are:

  • Diabetes and mental health risk assessment tools.
  • Worksite biometric and diabetes screening (pre and post coaching).
  • Coaching by a Certified Diabetes Educator.
  • Connecting participants to relevant community and workplace supports (e.g. physician, local pharmacist, insurer/EAP resources).

Motivaction is also a research study primarily aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of diabetes screening and education in the workplace in the reduction of risk factors for diabetes. The secondary objectives of the study are to measure the correlation between diabetes and mental health (such as depression), to document changes in lifestyle, healthcare utilization and productivity following the intervention.

The Diabetes in the Workplace Pilot initiative is guided by an Advisory Council of Canadians with expertise in related fields. 


Categories: Disease Management