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Depression and diabetes study to explore positive mind set

By Editor
29th November 2017
Self management

A self-management aid to help people with diabetes who suffer from depression and anxiety is being developed.

A research team from Liverpool are looking to developing a programme which is based on encouraging positive feelings, such as optimism, hope or happiness, as part of the person’s treatment.

Healthcare professionals are being asked to encourage people to take part in an online questionnaire to aid with the Adopting the ‘Best Possible Self’ Task to Improve Diabetes Self-Management research study.

The purpose of the research is to assess whether a brief, self-administered psychological task known as the ‘Best Possible Self’ (BPS) protocol can improve aspects of diabetes self-management.

Research has shown that the BPS can help people set goals, manage, restructure their priorities, and express and come to term with their emotions better. This helps to boost mood and can give people a sense of control over things such as illness but the BPS has never been used to help people manage their diabetes. This study has been developed to test its suitability in doing just this.

Participation will last for four weeks and people will be randomly allocated to one of two groups. They will be asked to fill in two questionnaires and provide some demographic information. The group allocation will determine whether they receive the BPS task straight away or at a later stage.

Over the four week period participants must continue their self-care routine as normal but for those who receive the BPS straight away, then it is recommended the time use used to engage with the task as much as they can. Once the research period is over, another questionnaire must be completed to see whether there has been a change in mood or behaviour.

The work is being carried out by PhD student Benjamin Gibson at Liverpool John Moores University.

He said: “The aim of my three year project is to develop a diabetes self-management aid that can empower people, help them set goals, and give them more control over their illness. In the long-run, we’re hoping to have built something that could even improve clinical results such as HbA1c.

“At the moment, I am running my second study to determine its effectiveness in addressing psychological factors associated with self-management. There are plenty of drug and psychological therapies around, of course, and there’s a lot to be said for educational courses. However, one of the issues that we, other researchers and even patients have noticed is that there’s quote a lot of focus on the negative within current psychological therapies. They address negative thoughts and they tackle stress but they don’t encourage positive feelings such as optimism, hope or happiness. The assumption is that these things will emerge in the absence of the negative but that’s not always the case.

“What we’re trying to achieve is simply to develop one such intervention. One or two other researchers have been piloting similar interventions and have seen some early successes which we are hoping to replicate. They and ourselves are building on a foundation laid by previous lab work that has demonstrated the unique role that positive emotions has in facilitating diabetes self-management behaviours and improving blood sugar control.

“Importantly, this work has shown that improvements can be made even when the person is already free of distress, meaning that any “positive” interventions currently in development can be given to anyone with diabetes regardless of their mental health status.”

For more information about the study, click here.

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