More than two thirds of patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are not confident they are in control of their condition, a major new survey has suggested.
Only three in 10 – equivalent to 30% – of patients who responded to the Diabetes UK survey said they “definitely” felt in control of their condition. The charity described the finding as “alarming”.
“We want to see a system where specialist support is made available to those who need it”
The research also found 19% of respondents had used support or counselling from a trained professional to help them manage their diabetes.
In addition, it revealed that 32% had at some point relied on self-help materials, including books, videos and resources found online.
In one of its largest ever surveys, Diabetes UK gathered views from 8,500 patients about their experiences of living with the condition today, and what their hopes and fears were for the future.
The charity highlighted that three in five patients with diabetes said they experienced emotional or mental health problems, as a result of their condition.
How diabetes affected emotional wellbeing “stood out as a major factor” for survey respondents, said the charity, with 64% saying that they often or sometimes felt down because of their diabetes.
“We need a workforce with the capacity and confidence to care for people with diabetes”
Meanwhile, 33% said that diabetes got in the way of them or a family member doing things they wanted to do.
The results of this research are included in the Future of Diabetes report, which the charity is launching at an event today in parliament to mark World Diabetes Day on 14 November.
The report cited the increasing need for nurses and other health professionals to understand the condition and its impact, and also for services to be more adaptable to the needs of patients.
“We need a workforce with the capacity and confidence to care for people with diabetes. Every healthcare professional that people with diabetes come into contact with should have good understanding of diabetes – and be able to support the needs of those living with it,” said the report.
In addition, it said that consultations should be long enough for clinical teams to provide the quality of care “they would like to” and that care needed to be planned “around people’s lives”.
“This means co-ordinated annual checks that don’t require unnecessary multiple appointments, and collaborative care planning with results sent to people in advance of their consultation,” it said.
The report added: “We need to explore the flexibility to provide appointments outside working hours, as well as using channels like email and Skype.”
The charity said it was urging the government to radically improve outcomes for diabetes patients by committing to sustain transformation funding at current levels of £44m until at least 2021.
Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Investing now will not only allow us to reap substantial financial and social benefits in the future, but more importantly it will help people to live well with diabetes today.”
He noted that diabetes affected more than 4.5 million people in the UK, describing it as the “fastest-growing health crisis of our time”.
Ms Askew highlighted, in particular, the survey findings relating to the emotional wellbeing of patients with diabetes.
“This new research brings to light the isolation that can come from managing an invisible condition, and how detrimental living with diabetes can be to a person’s emotional wellbeing without the right support,” he said.
“Effective diabetes care requires that a person’s emotional needs are taken into account alongside their physical care needs,” he said. “We want to see a system where specialist support – from people who understand diabetes – is made available to those who need it.”
The online Future of Diabetes survey ran from June until August 2017, with 7,164 people completing it in full. An additional 2,561 people submitted partial responses, while the highest number of people to answer a question was 8,512.