Background: Diabetes often requires the use of sharp objects (e.g. needles, lancets, etc) to maintain optimal glycemic control. Improper disposal of sharps poses substantial threats to the environment and public health.

Objectives: To estimate the prevalence, and identify predictors, of improper sharps disposal among people with diabetes (PWD) in Saudi Arabia.

Method: We surveyed PWD, visiting a diabetes center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in Sep- Oct, 2021. We asked questions about sociodemographics, type and duration of diabetes, methods of sharps disposal, and whether the study participants had received instructions on proper sharps disposal. We defined “proper sharps disposal” as: dispensing sharps into a designated sharps disposal container or home-made sealed container.

Results: Of the 293 PWD surveyed, 60% were women, 54% were ≥35 years old, and 53% had type 1 diabetes. Majority (80% and 72%) reported improper disposal of needles and lancets, respectively. Approximately, 56% of needle users and 61% of lancet users reported that they had never received instructions on safe sharps disposal. Receiving education on safe sharps disposal was associated with a 66% reduction in the risk of improper sharps disposal practice[OR (95% CI) : 0.34 (0.16-0.68) ] after adjusting for age, gender, type and duration of diabetes, income, education, and nationality of the study participants. Among those who improperly dispose their needles, 67% thought their way of sharps disposal was appropriate and 47% did not know what type of infections can be transmitted via needlestick injuries.

Conclusion: Our findings highlight the high prevalence of unsafe sharps disposal practices among PWD, and how providing education on safe sharps disposal can help address this environmental and public health threat. Policies to reduce diabetes-related waste, unify the approach to proper sharps disposal, and educate PWD on how to safely dispose sharps are needed to achieve a sustainable and safe waste management system.


G.Alsuwailem: None. M.Barakeh: None. G.A.Almarshoud: None. A.Zawawi: None. R.A.Bakader: None. M.Al-sofiani: None.

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