This report examines the use of insulin pumps by people with Type 1 diabetes. It represents the most up-to-date national reporting of this information in Australia. The findings are based on administrative data supplied by Diabetes Australia and data from the Insulin Pump User Survey, conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2011.

Pump users

  • As at 30 June 2011, there were 10,510 insulin pump users in Australia—representing 10% of people with Type 1 diabetes.
  • Almost half of all insulin pump users were under 25 years old.
  • Compared with the national average of 10%, the Australian Capital Territory (15%), Western Australia (12%) and Tasmania (11%) had a higher proportion of pump users among people with Type 1 diabetes, while the Northern Territory had the lowest proportion (7%).
  • Insulin pump use was more common among people with Type 1 diabetes living in areas of high socioeconomic status (14%) than among those in low socioeconomic status areas (6%).

How have things changed?

  • The number of people with Type 1 diabetes commencing insulin pump therapy increased from 107 per month in 2004 to 140 per month in 2010.
  • People with Type 1 diabetes now begin using insulin pump therapy relatively sooner after diagnosis than in the past. In 1997, less than 1% began using an insulin pump within 2 years of diagnosis; in 2009, this had risen to 18%.

Financing insulin pump use

  • Approximately 80% of insulin pump users with Type 1 diabetes obtained a private health insurance rebate for the purchase of their pump.
  • Insulin pump therapy is more expensive than multiple daily injections. The pump itself costs between $4,000 and $9,000 and the average expenditure on consumables was $29 per month in 2010–11, compared with $6 per month for injection therapy

Insulin pump use experience

  • The largest motivating factor for choosing to use a pump was better control of diabetes—88% of survey respondents indicated this.
  • For most insulin pump users, the benefits of pump use outweighed any problems they encountered.
  • The fact that insulin pump therapy fitted in with the lifestyle of the user was the most frequently cited benefit (86% of survey respondents). The most commonly cited problem was that insulin pump consumables were too expensive (32%).
  • Twenty-three per cent of survey respondents attended an emergency department or were admitted to hospital for diabetes management while using a pump.
  • In spite of recommendations for contact with a diabetes health professional every 3–6 months, 10% of insulin pump users had not had contact with a professional in over 6 months.