The present study shows that there is insufficient knowledge about the diagnosis, clinical implications and management of prediabetes amongst the Latin American health providers. The participants answered correctly that a family history of diabetes in a first-degree relative is a main risk factor and the main criteria to screen their patients. However, few recognized ethnicity as a risk factor or that prediabetes is a risk factor for CVD. Despite 75% of those surveyed agreeing that lifestyle modification can reduce the risk of diabetes, 50% correctly identified guidelines recommendations for minimum physical activity and target weight-loss . There was a strong perception that low adherence of patients to lifestyle modifications is due to the lack of motivation and a perception that these changes have clinical impact. However, there is also a lack of familiarity with weight loss programs and skepticism about the effectiveness of these programs among health care providers [11,12,13]. There is an important substantial underprescription of metformin in the treatment of prediabetes, despite the published Latin American and Colombian Consensus recommending its use if the goal of glycemia is not achieved after 3 months of lifestyle changes [1, 3, 14]. Additionally, the ADA guidelines  recommend the use of metformin for the prevention of development of DM2 in subjects with prediabetes, especially in those with body mass index > 35 kg/m2, over 60 years old, and in women with a history of gestational diabetes (recommendation grade A). This recommendation is based mainly on the results of the Diabetes Prevention Program [15, 16], which showed the importance of using metformin in high-risk subjects. Of the 3234 subjects with IFG and body mass index (BMI) > 24 included in the study, 1079 were randomized to intensive lifestyle intervention, 924 to metformin treatment, and 932 to placebo. At 2.8 years of follow-up, lifestyle changes were the most effective intervention for the reduction in the incidence of DM2 (58% compared to placebo). However, metformin was effective in reducing this incidence by 31% compared to the placebo. Moreover, at the 15-year follow-up, the incidence of diabetes was reduced by 18% in the metformin group (0.82, 0.72–0.93; p = 0.001) compared to placebo . Lifestyle changes are the first line and the cornerstone of dysglycemia management. However, given the particular context of our region regarding social and economic, where there are limited time and resources to implement adequate monitoring programs, the addition of the pharmacological strategy as a compliment in the management could be a correct intervention. In addition, the Diabetes Prevention Program of India (IDPP) that resemblances our socioeconomic context showed that changes in lifestyle and metformin reduced the progression to DM2 in a similar proportion, 28.5% (95% CI 20.5 to 37.3%) vs 26.4% (95% CI 19.1 to 35.1%), respectively . The results of our study are worrisome since we have previously shown that 49% of patients with a first AMI were unaware that they had prediabetes, which is not only associated with a higher risk of AMI, but also to lower survival rates following it . Moreover, there is evidence that the benefit of treating prediabetes is the reduction in the risk of progression to diabetes and coronary atherosclerosis [18,19,20].
The general medicine physicians, who in Latin America are the first line or gatekeeper of primary care provision [21, 22], had the best survey performance in comparison with the internal medicine and other specialists. This is an unexpected result, which may be related to the fact that many of the general medicine physician’s surveyed work in direct government preventive care programs. Nonetheless, the overall knowledge of detection and management of prediabetes can be considered too low as previously reported in health providers in a region of the USA . The adoption of the guidelines proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO), including the “25 × 25” strategy, can improve the detection and control of the main cardiovascular risk factors . For example, the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation 4 (HOPE-4) , community-based implementation study showed that task-sharing with non-physician health workers for the education of patients, the supply of free medicines, and the participation of family and friends led to a more than 40% reduction in estimated cardiovascular risk at 10 years and doubled the control of hypertension in comparison to the control group (usual medical care). This strategy could be adapted for the early recognition of prediabetes and its management at the community and primary care health providers level.
The present study has some limitations. The survey was not validated; however, due to the characteristics of the people evaluated, the questions were designed to evaluate concepts about universal definitions. Most of the participants surveyed were physicians, dissimilar to the percentage of nurses included in the survey that was low because of the low attendance rates of this group to the events. These events were predominantly directed to physicians. There was a lack of complementary questions such as around the knowledge of the glucose tolerance test. However, this is also a limitation of the original survey. The providers surveyed attended to three different medical meetings which included prediabetes related topics and were completed during the sessions, this may lead to a higher risk of information bias. We therefore need to survey a sample in a different context to determine the reproducibility of our results, particularly considering that our sample was not representative of Latin America as a whole, with as most participants were from Colombia.