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One in three turn to internet over a GP for medical advice

New online research, to mark the start of Diabetes Week 2018, has revealed that one in three people would seek advice online first over talking to a GP about a health concern.

The theme for Diabetes Week 2018 is Talk About Diabetes. We're taking the opportunity to help people with diabetes have honest, open conversations about their condition with healthcare professionals, friends and family.

The poll of more than 2,000 adults in the UK, carried out by YouGov on our behalf, also showed that less than 23 per cent of participants said they would feel comfortable speaking to an employer about health concerns. While 75 per cent said they'd feel comfortable talking about a friend or loved one’s health condition, only 65 per cent of our participants said they’d feel comfortable talking to friends or loved ones about their own health.

In light of these findings, we've produced a list of top tips to encourage people with diabetes to have conversations they may have been avoiding with their healthcare professional team.

Our top tips for people with diabetes talking to healthcare professionals

  • Diabetes is complicated and different for everyone. There’s no such thing as a silly question. So don’t be afraid to ask about whatever’s on your mind.
  • It’ll help if you go to your appointment with some questions in mind. You could write them down or send them to your healthcare team beforehand.
  • This time is for you, so let your healthcare team know what you’d like to talk about from the start.
  • Sometimes you’ll have more to talk about, and you might need more time. If you can, book a double appointment so you don’t have to rush.
  • There might be things you feel uncomfortable talking about. But your healthcare team is there to help, so be honest and make the most of their medical expertise.

Dan Howarth is Head of Care at Diabetes UK. He said:

“Talking about diabetes can be hard. But for someone living with the condition, or caring for someone who does, it can mean getting the right treatment, ensuring your rights are protected at work or making sure your child receives the best care at school. That’s why being able to talk about diabetes, and having people to talk to, is so important.

“This Diabetes Week we want to help people live better with diabetes, by giving them tools and tips to start tricky conversations and get the support they really need.

“Finding information online about diabetes can be tricky, too, and risky if you don’t know where to start. We’d recommend using the Diabetes UK website, or our helpline, if you want to be signposted to expert advice about living with or managing any aspect of diabetes.”

An earlier survey, which we carried out, questioned over 8,000 people and highlighted the priorities for those living with, or affected by diabetes. We found that greater support for emotional and psychological health, better access to healthcare professionals who understand diabetes, and more support and understanding at work and in schools were the most important to our focus group.

To support this, we have also developed tips to help healthcare professionals sensitively approach conversations with their patients living with diabetes. As well as to improve the public start a conversation with someone they know who has the condition.

Diabetes UK’s Tips for Healthcare Professionals include:

  • Some things are hard to talk about, and that’s fine. Just be frank and use clear, simple language. It’ll help both you and your patient feel more relaxed and comfortable.
  • Sometimes there’s a lot to talk about in an appointment, and you might need more time. You could suggest booking a double appointment next time and highlight other ways to get in touch, such as email. Don’t forget about our helpline that’s there to offer support as well.
  • Your patient is more than just a number. By understanding their day-to-day lives, you can help them manage their diabetes better. A simple question about their favourite hobby or weekend plans can often build rapport and make a huge difference.

To get people talking this Diabetes Week, we're also asking people to share their tips about having difficult conversations. Get involved and share your tips on our Diabetes Week page or on social media using the hashtag #talkaboutdiabetes.

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