Published on 20 March 2014

A study into the psychological impact of diabetes has revealed that more than a quarter of people with diabetes experience diabetes-related stress, leading experts to call for better support to be available.

The results of the DAWN2 (Diabetes, Attitudes, Wishes and Needs) showed that psychological support should be a priority for diabetes care in the UK, alongside improved education and self-management of the condition.

The findings of the Novo Nordisk led study revealed that more than a quarter (26%) of people with diabetes experience diabetes-related distress. Yet family members also experience distress, with around half (47%) worrying about low blood sugar (hypoglycaemic) events, and nearly one in 10 (9%) family members having likely depression.

DAWN2 was a global study of diabetes 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, more than 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.

In response to the 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 said: “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.”

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