Mental Health Nursing

People with diabetes can feel lonely and isolated

Researchers at the University of Hull and Hull York Medical School are working to drive innovation in healthcare and treatment for people suffering from diabetes.

They carried out a study of 3,000 people with type 2 diabetes in Hull and East Yorkshire to identify and address negative impacts of the condition including isolation and loneliness.

The project focuses on the views and experiences of those with the condition – and has resulted in a series of recommendations to address their concerns and drive innovation in healthcare.

Feelings of embarrassment, blame and guilt often characterise the experience of people living with type 2 diabetes, one of the most common chronic diseases in the world.

It is frequently associated with negative perceptions and stigma. Many people with type 2 feel they are perceived by society in general as a burden on the health service.

Susan Hopcroft, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in March 2015, said: “It was hard to accept. Everyone knows that with type 1 diabetes – you are born with it.

“But if you have type 2 people think it is your fault, that you haven’t looked after yourself properly.”

There is the loneliness and isolation, and the fear of the condition worsening which in complex cases may cause depression. We want to raise awareness of how people with diabetes are feeling and help them receive the best possible health care and support. Liz Walker,
Professor of Health and Social Work Research, University of Hull

Professor Una Macleod, Dean of Hull York Medical School, said: “The identification of issues such as loneliness and the stigma felt by people with type 2 diabetes will enable advances to be made in the support and treatment of the condition.”

Liz Walker, Professor of Health and Social Work Research at the University of Hull, said mental wellbeing could  be affected in many different ways.

She said: “There is the loneliness and isolation, and the fear of the condition worsening which in complex cases may cause depression. We want to raise awareness of how people with diabetes are feeling and help them receive the best possible health care and support.”

Thozhukat Sathyapalan, Professor of Endocrinology at Hull York Medical School, said: “The participants in our survey indicated there are a number of areas which health services could develop or improve.

“This situation needs to change so that we can help people deal with the condition to live the best life they can.”

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