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Combating type 1 diabetes stigma

Project summary

Diabetes stigma is a serious problem and can have serious effects on people with diabetes’ physical and mental health. Professor Nick Oliver will look at the causes of type 1 diabetes stigma, explore how many people in the UK experience it and the impact it can have. Understanding the roots of type 1 diabetes stigma and how it evolves over time, could help to develop novel ways to manage or tackle it.

Background to research

Diabetes stigma refers to negative thoughts, attitudes and behaviours towards people living with diabetes. It can take lots of different forms. It may be a throwaway comment or repetition of myths and misconceptions around what diabetes is and what causes it. Diabetes is relentless and grappling with diabetes stigma on top of this can take a real toll on health and wellbeing. 

We know that too many people living with diabetes experience stigma, but our Diabetes Research Steering Groups identified that not enough research has been done to understand how it develops, the impact it has on people and how widespread it is among people living with type 1 diabetes in the UK.

Research aims

Professor Nick Oliver and his team at Imperial College London want to better understand how people with type 1 diabetes in the UK experience stigma. They will survey a large and diverse group of people living with type 1 diabetes, to take a deep dive into their personal experiences of stigma.  

The team will work hard to make sure the voices of people with type 1 from a wide range of ethnic and economic backgrounds are included in their research. This means we can be sure the findings will be relevant to the experiences of everyone with type 1 living in the UK.  

The survey responses will help the researchers understand how stigma develops and evolves during the years after type 1 diabetes diagnosis.  

They’ll also explore how factors such as age, sex, ethnicity, education, and diabetes management affect people’s experiences of stigma, as well as looking at how stigma affects people’s physical and mental health.  

The researchers will then run focus groups with people who are most affected by stigma to take a closer look at what experiences lead to stigma and how it causes distress. 

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Finding out more about what drives type 1 diabetes stigma, how it may change over time, and how it impacts people is essential to understand how we can better support those who experience it. By building the first picture of stigma in people living with type 1 diabetes in the UK, this research can help researchers to develop novel ways to tackle it and reduce its negative effects on physical and mental health.

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