Aim: To describe the prevalence and characteristics of polypharmacy in a Dutch cohort of individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Methods: We included people with type 2 diabetes from the Diabetes Pearl cohort, of whom 3886 were treated in primary care and 2873 in academic care (secondary/tertiary). With multivariable multinomial logistic regression analyses stratified for line of care, we assessed which sociodemographic, lifestyle and cardiometabolic characteristics were associated with moderate (5-9 medications) and severe polypharmacy (≥ 10 medications) compared with no polypharmacy (0-4 medications).

Results: Mean age was 63 ± 10 years, and 40% were women. The median number of daily medications was 5 (IQR 3-7) in primary care and 7 (IQR 5-10) in academic care. The prevalence of moderate and severe polypharmacy was 44% and 10% in primary care, and 53% and 29% in academic care respectively. Glucose-lowering and lipid-modifying medications were most prevalent. People with severe polypharmacy used a relatively large amount of other (i.e. non-cardiovascular and non-glucose-lowering) medication. Moderate and severe polypharmacy across all lines of care were associated with higher age, low educational level, more smoking, longer diabetes duration, higher BMI and more cardiovascular disease.

Conclusions: Severe and moderate polypharmacy are prevalent in over half of people with type 2 diabetes in primary care, and even more in academic care. People with polypharmacy are characterized by poorer cardiometabolic status. These results highlight the significance of polypharmacy in type 2 diabetes.

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