A large-scale survey will examine how the first contact between doctors and patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has an impact on their future health.
The survey - sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly and developed with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) - will involve more than 10,000 people with type 2 diabetes across 26 countries worldwide and is claimed to be the largest study of its type.
Investigators will look at the first conversations between doctors and people with type 2 diabetes, and also when they discuss whether to add another medication to improve glucose control, to gauge how these interactions can affect their wellbeing and self-reported health outcomes.
The two companies said that the quality of communication between patients and doctors - right from diagnosis - may "increase the individual's satisfaction and adherence, improve quality of life, enhance self-care, and may even improve blood glucose control and outcomes".
The project ties in with efforts by the pharma industry to move beyond its traditional role of selling medicines and start providing a more holistic approach to patient care by providing ancillary support and services. Lilly and Boehringer recently launched an online diabetes management game to raise awareness of type 2 diabetes complications.
Once the findings are available in 2014, Boehringer and Lilly intend to develop tools to support doctors in making sure the early conversations with patients are as productive and positive as possible given the "limited time they have for patients".
The overall aim is to help both doctors and patients concentrate on the elements that have the potential to make a difference to patient outcomes, as well as to highlight challenges or potential areas for improvement.
"Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can be a challenging and emotional period, which understandably, many people find overwhelming," commented Anne Belton, vice president at the IDF.
"Ensuring individuals have the support they need at this time as well as an understanding of the progressive nature of their condition and the importance of self-management - right from the start - is crucial to success in the long run," she added.
Figures recently published by the IDF predict that 592 million people - one in 10 of the world's population - will have diabetes by 2023, many of them in low and middle income countries and the majority aged under 60.
Boehringer and Lilly forged a wide-ranging alliance in the area of diabetes in early 2011.