UK experts call for psychological support to be a priority

By Editor
17th March 2014
Charity, Latest news Psychological support

Psychological support should be a priority for diabetes care in the UK alongside improved education and self-management of the condition, experts have said on the back of a major study.

The findings of Novo Nordisk’s DAWN2™ study show more than a quarter (26 per cent) of people with diabetes experience diabetes-related distress. Yet family members also experience distress, with around half (47 per cent) worrying about low blood sugar (hypoglycaemic) events, and nearly one in ten (9 per cent) family members having likely depression.

The DAWN2™ global study of diabetes was conducted among 15,000 people in 17 countries, including 900 people with diabetes, family members, carers and healthcare professionals in the UK. Results from the DAWN2™ study have found that participation in diabetes education is associated with a greater sense of wellbeing and ability to self-manage diabetes.

However, over three-quarters of people with diabetes in the UK (78%) have never attended a diabetes education programme, and family members are rarely included (79%). Additionally, only 14% of healthcare professionals say that all their patients with diabetes are offered structured diabetes education classes.

Simon O’Neill, Director of Health Intelligence at Diabetes UK and DAWN2™ steering committee member, said: “DAWN2 reveals the burden on families of those living with diabetes. Families are worried about their loved one’s future, fearful about aspects such as hypoglycaemia, and keen to help when it comes to self-management. We must take a person-centred approach to diabetes care that includes all those involved – the individual, their family network and the healthcare professional community. We need to work together to create a plan of care based on the person’s individual needs”.

In response to these findings, a national action plan has been launched to help improve diabetes care in the UK. The DAWN2™ action plan has been developed by an independent, multidisciplinary group, with the support of Novo Nordisk, and will provide innovative tools and resources to people living with and caring for diabetes, as part of a three-year programme.

Dr Neil Munro, Associate Specialist in Diabetes at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, DAWN2™ study lead and steering committee member, commented: “Diabetes remains a huge challenge for the NHS; it is therefore vital that we help people take steps to improve management of their own condition alongside the use of effective treatment regimes. By providing structured education to people with diabetes, their family members, and the healthcare professionals who care for them, we can make significant improvements in the quality of life for people with diabetes”.

Summary of DAWN2™ UK findings include:

  • People with diabetes worry most about their weight (63%), hypoglycaemia (37%) and nocturnal hypoglycaemia (31%)
  • 26% of people with diabetes experience diabetes-related distress
  • 13% of people with diabetes have been discriminated against because of their condition
  • 80% of specialists, nurses and dieticians and 53% of GPs recognise a major need for improved psychosocial support services
  • 41% of people with diabetes report that their healthcare team listen to how they would like to do things; however, 81% of healthcare professionals reported that they have done so
  • Only 14% of healthcare professionals say that all their patients with diabetes are offered structured diabetes education classes
  • 39% of family members feel frustrated because they do not know how best to help their relative with diabetes
  • 59% of healthcare professionals believe that family members play a vital role in good diabetes care

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