Time preferences, diabetes self-management behaviours and outcomes: a systematic review Academic Article uri icon


  • Aim

    Time preferences, i.e. individuals' degree of patience/impatience in intertemporal choice, have been found to be associated with suboptimal health behaviours and health outcomes such as smoking, physical inactivity, unhealthy food intake and obesity. In this systematic review, we aimed to synthesise reported associations between time preferences, diabetes self-management behaviours, including use of diabetes technology, and outcomes.


    We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, EconLit and all databases in the Web of Science Core Collection. Peer-reviewed studies of people with diabetes that included at least one diabetes-related behaviour or outcome and a measure of time preferences were included. Non-English language studies were excluded.


    A total of 961 records were identified, of which 12 articles were included. Three studies analysed both time-consistent and time-inconsistent preferences, three studies solely analysed time-inconsistent preferences and six studies did not explicitly define a time preference model. Measured outcomes across studies included self-care activities, such as medication-taking, exercising and eating a healthy diet, and biomedical outcomes, such as HbA1c and diabetes-related complications. There were 10 cross-sectional studies and two panel-data studies. No studies explicitly analysed the relationship between time preferences and diabetes technology use.


    Associations between measures of time preferences, diabetes self-management behaviours and clinical outcomes exist. Higher discount rates determined by both time-consistent and time-inconsistent models predict less diabetes-related self-care and worse outcomes. These findings may add to explanations of the observed variation in diabetes-related health and provide new insights for tailoring interventions and policies aimed at improving diabetes self-management.

publication date

  • 2019