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Original article

Vol. 151 No. 1112 (2021)

Prevalence of diabetes mellitus in the greater Bern region (Bern-Mittelland) 2010–2014

Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2021;151:w20478



Concerning diabetes mellitus, one of the greatest burdens in public health in the 21st century, epidemiological data in Switzerland are scarce. To address this issue, this study intended to use a little-known but convenient way to quantify the prevalence of diabetes mellitus in the Swiss region of Bern-Mittelland.


In a population of approximately 330,000 people, the prevalence for the years 2010–2014 in adult persons was estimated using the capture-recapture method based on data collected routinely at the University Hospital in Bern (Inselspital) using outpatient lists and the registry of persons insured with Helsana Insurance Group.


The estimated prevalence of diabetes mellitus was 3.97% (95% confidence interval [CI] 3.41–4.53%) in 2010, with a slight decrease to 3.65% (95% CI 3.24–4.06%) in 2014. An average of 3430 patients with diabetes or 26% of the total number appeared on at least one patient list. The remaining 74% were unknown patients identified by the capture-recapture method.


The estimated prevalence of diabetes mellitus was in a range comparable to national and international studies. Thus, administratively collected data in clinics and insurance companies constitute a convenient data source for epidemiological studies. In conjunction with the capture-recapture method an approach with comparatively low effort and costs for the surveillance of chronic disease can be provided.


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