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Your voice driving research: diabetes and mental wellbeing

To make sure research brings the breakthroughs in treatment, prevention and care people living with or at risk of diabetes want, they need a seat at the table. To be heard directly by funders and researchers. That’s why we set up our research involvement initiatives – to bring researchers, healthcare professionals, research funders and people living with diabetes together. As a team they work out what needs to be done to bring about the change people living with, or at risk of, diabetes want to see. But don’t take our word for it, listen to the people living with diabetes involved in guiding research and the researchers and funders they influenced.  

Want to guide research? We are currently recruiting here

What did people living with diabetes say? 

Bob, living with type 2 diabetes: 

Picture of bob in a chair

“So many of our conversations about what it is like to live long-term with diabetes highlighted struggles with distress, depression, anxiety and eating disorders. And we have long known that people living with diabetes have disproportionately high rates of mental health problems. Discussions with other people living with diabetes, as well as healthcare professionals and researchers, clearly showed that mental well‐being was an area in need of both better understanding, and improvements in the care available” 

How did Diabetes UK respond? 

Kamini, Head of Research Funding at Diabetes UK:

“In talking directly to people with diabetes and healthcare professionals, it was incredibly clear there was a gap in research around diabetes and mental wellbeing.  To address this, we held a workshop bringing together people with diabetes, researchers and healthcare professionals, to identify how research could help.  This led to the launch of a strategic call on diabetes and eating disorders – an area that was considered under researched and which affects a number of people with diabetes.”  

 Read more about what we funded here 

How did the research community react? 

Dr Gemma Traviss-Turner, researcher at University of Leeds specialising in disordered eating:

“As a psychologist, I recognise that living with long term physical health conditions can be detrimental to individual’s mental wellbeing. Speaking to people living with diabetes at the Diabetes and Mental health workshop, I realised how I could adapt my work and develop bespoke treatments to address the mental health of people with Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes-UK funding will enable me to adapt an existing treatment for eating disorders so that it is suitable for the management of binge eating in adults with type 2 diabetes.”  

What do people living with diabetes think of the progress so far? 

Lis, living with type 1 diabetes:

“I struggled for around 40 years with food and weight in my earlier life and found it difficult to get appropriate specialist help until quite recently. And I know that this is a massive issue for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It has been my hope for many years that recognition of the relationship between diabetes and disordered eating and it’s treatment would improve. So although I’ve now dealt with my demons, I’m thrilled that others will benefit from future research and improved care for eating disorders.”


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