• Open Access

Stepwise intensification of insulin therapy in Type 2 diabetes management—exploring the concept of the basal-plus approach in clinical practice


Correspondence to: David R. Owens. E-mail: owensdr@cf.ac.uk


Basal insulin provides an effective method for initiating insulin therapy in people with Type 2 diabetes, resulting in significant improvements in glycaemic control, lower rates of hypoglycaemia and less weight gain than either prandial or premixed insulin regimens. However, the progressive nature of Type 2 diabetes and the inability of basal insulin to correct excessive postprandial glucose excursions mean that insulin therapy will eventually need to be intensified, typically by adding prandial insulin as part of a basal–bolus or premixed insulin regimen. The aim of this review is to summarize recent clinical evidence for a staged ‘basal-plus’ strategy for insulin intensification where one, two or three prandial insulin injections are added to basal insulin according to individual need. In the early stages of insulin therapy, most individuals seem to achieve favourable glycaemic control with basal insulin alone, or in combination with a single prandial insulin injection. The addition of a single prandial insulin injection at the largest meal is well tolerated and associated with significant improvements in glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), low rates of hypoglycaemia and limited weight gain. More people achieve recommended HbA1c targets with a basal-plus strategy, compared with twice-daily premixed insulin therapy, with lower rates of hypoglycaemia. The data indicate that a step-by-step approach with the basal-plus strategy is a promising alternative method of insulin intensification that allows for individualization of treatment and may delay progression to a full basal–bolus insulin replacement therapy for many individuals.