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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2016

Epidemiology of diabetes and complications among adults in the Republic of Ireland 1998-2015: a systematic review and meta-analysis

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2016
Marsha L. Tracey, Michael Gilmartin, Kate O’Neill, Anthony P. Fitzgerald, Sheena M. McHugh, Claire M. Buckley, Ronan J. Canavan, Patricia M. Kearney
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12889-016-2818-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

MLT, MG, PMK, APF conceived and designed the study. MLT, MG, KON researched data. MLT analysed the data. MLT wrote the manuscript. PMK, SMMc, CMB, APF, RJC, KON, APF reviewed the manuscript. MLT edited the manuscript. MLT, MG, KON, PMK, SMMc, CMB, APF, RJC approved final manuscript.



Accurate estimates of the burden of diabetes are essential for future planning and evaluation of services. In Ireland, there is no diabetes register and prevalence estimates vary. The aim of this review was to systematically identify and review studies reporting the prevalence of diabetes and complications among adults in Ireland between 1998 and 2015 and to examine trends in prevalence over time.


A systematic literature search was carried out using PubMed and Embase. Diabetes prevalence estimates were pooled by random-effects meta-analysis. Poisson regression was carried out using data from four nationally representative studies to calculate prevalence rates of doctor diagnosed diabetes between 1998 and 2015 and was also used to assess whether the rate of doctor diagnosed diabetes changed over time.


Fifteen studies (eight diabetes prevalence and seven complication prevalence) were eligible for inclusion. In adults aged 18 years and over, the national prevalence of doctor diagnosed diabetes significantly increased from 2.2 % in 1998 to 5.2 % in 2015 (p trend ≤ 0.001). The prevalence of diabetes complications ranged widely depending on study population and methodology used (6.5–25.2 % retinopathy; 3.2–32.0 % neuropathy; 2.5-5.2 % nephropathy).


Between 1998 and 2015, there was a significant increase in the prevalence of doctor diagnosed diabetes among adults in Ireland. Trends in microvascular and macrovascular complications prevalence could not be examined due to heterogeneity between studies and the limited availability of data. Reliable baseline data are needed to monitor improvements in care over time at a national level. A comprehensive national diabetes register is urgently needed in Ireland.
Additional file 1: Electronic search strategies for articles. (DOCX 11 kb)
Additional file 2: Critical appraisal checklist for studies reporting prevalence data. (DOCX 25 kb)
Additional file 3: Sensitivity analysis based on high quality studies. (DOCX 16 kb)
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