OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the clinical/research utility of the biopsycho-behavioral model of severe hypoglycemia in differentiating patients with and without a history of severe hypoglycemia and in predicting occurrence of future severe hypoglycemia. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: A total of 93 adults with type 1 diabetes (mean age 35.8 years, duration of diabetes 16 +/- 10 years, HbA1 8.6 +/- 1.8%), 42 of whom had a recent history of recurrent severe hypoglycemia (SH) and 51 who did not (NoSH), used a handheld computer for 70 trials during 1 month recording cognitive-motor functioning, symptoms, blood glucose (BG) estimates, judgments concerning self-treatment of BG, actual BG readings, and actual treatment of low BG. For the next 6 months, patients recorded occurrence of severe hypoglycemia. RESULTS: SH patients demonstrated significantly more frequent and extreme low BG readings (low BG index), greater cognitive-motor impairments during hypoglycemia, fewer perceived symptoms of hypoglycemia, and poorer detection of hypoglycemia. SH patients were also less likely to treat their hypoglycemia with glucose and more likely to treat with general foods. Low BG index, magnitude of hypoglycemia-impaired ability to do mental subtraction, and awareness of neuroglycopenia, neurogenic symptoms, and hypoglycemia correlated separately with number of SH episodes in the subsequent 6 months. However, only low BG index, hypoglycemia-impaired ability to do mental subtraction, and awareness of hypoglycemia entered into a regression model predicting future severe hypoglycemia (R2 = 0.25, P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Patients with a history of severe hypoglycemia differed on five of the seven steps of the biopsychobehavioral model of severe hypoglycemia. Helping patients with a recent history of severe hypoglycemia to reduce the frequency of their low-BG events, become more sensitive to early signs of neuroglycopenia and neurogenic symptoms, better recognize occurrence of low BG, and use fast-acting glucose more frequently in the treatment of low BG, may reduce occurrence of future severe hypoglycemia.

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