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Breaking down barriers to diabetes tech for young people with type 1

Project summary

Access to diabetes technology isn’t the same for everyone living with type 1. Prof May Ng wants to explore how ethnicity and where people live can affect whether children and young people use tech. Finding and addressing unfair gaps in accessing tech will help all young people to manage their diabetes better, no matter their background. 

Background to research

More and more people living with type 1 diabetes are now using technology, like continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and insulin pumps, which have been shown to help people lower their blood sugar levels. But not everyone has access to this life-changing tech, including some children and young people with type 1.   

Research has shown that children and young people type 1 diabetes from Black and ethnic minority groups, as well as those living in more deprived areas, are less likely to be using tech. And that these inequalities in access are getting worse year on year.  

There is an urgent need to better understand all the reasons why these inequalities exist, in order to take all the necessary steps to address them and start closing the unfair gap in access to diabetes tech. 

Research aims

Prof Ng and her team will interview young people with type 1 and their families from diverse backgrounds, to find out more about their experiences of accessing tech and any worries they have about using it. They’ll also interview healthcare professionals, to understand how and why they make decisions about which children are given tech. 

They’ll use the answers to make a questionnaire that healthcare professionals can use in their clinics, to reveal barriers to accessing diabetes technology for children and families. 

These findings will feed into a new information package and resources for healthcare professionals and families of children with type 1, that aims to make access to diabetes tech fairer. The team will also use their findings to influence senior decision-makers in the NHS, to take action to close the gap. 

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Children and young people with type 1 diabetes deserve the best possible start in life. The insights from Prof Ng’s research will help us understand the inequalities and barriers in access to diabetes tech faced by this group and identify ways to tackle them.  

Bringing an end to widening inequalities will help to make sure all children and young people who would benefit have the tools and support they need to thrive, and live long, healthy lives, no matter their ethnicity or where they live.  

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