It’s time to recognise distress caused by diabetes 25 November 2016 It’s time to recognise distress caused by diabetes A new National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) resource has recently been released titled Diabetes and emotional health: A handbook for health professionals supporting adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. This resource has been developed by the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes (ACBRD), in collaboration with Diabetes Australia. This new handbook gives health professionals the strategies and tools to better recognise emotional problems and to work with people with diabetes to reduce the significant psychological burden that can be caused by diabetes. One of the chapters in the handbook, Diabetes distress, focuses on the emotional distress resulting from living with diabetes and the burden of daily self-management. Last week, saw 1166 national celebrations across 165 countries for World Diabetes Day. The theme for World Diabetes Day was ‘eyes on diabetes’, highlighting one of the most common complications of diabetes. One of the key messages for 2016 emphasised the importance of screening for diabetes complications, as an essential part of managing diabetes. Professor Jane Speight, Foundation Director of the ACBRD, says that that it is important to remember that emotional and physical health are equally important for diabetes management. She urges health professionals to consider screening for the emotional impacts of diabetes, in addition to the physical ones. “Our previous Diabetes MILES study showed that diabetes-related emotional problems are common, and they are just as serious and deserving of attention as the physical complications of diabetes” Professor Speight said. “For example, we found 1 in 4 people with type 1 diabetes and 1 in 5 people with type 2 diabetes experience severe diabetes distress. Importantly, the main concern for people with diabetes is ‘worrying about the future and the possibility of serious complications.’” Dr Adriana Ventura, psychologist with the ACBRD, said the Diabetes distress chapter in the handbook highlights the importance for every health consultation to include the opportunity for the person to express how they are actually feeling about life with diabetes. “People with diabetes often want opportunities to talk about their emotional wellbeing with their health professional. Diabetes distress is a common emotional response to living with diabetes, but it can fluctuate over time and may peak during challenging periods such as soon after diagnosis or during changes in treatment regimen, so it’s important to have the conversation regularly to prevent it from becoming severe.” “Many health professionals feel that they do not have the appropriate training to offer support to people with diabetes who are emotionally distressed, so this handbook is an important new resource for them. It will help health professionals to feel more confident to have conversations about diabetes distress during consultations” Dr Ventura added. Diabetes Australia CEO A/Professor Greg Johnson said the new handbook is a critical tool to promote more holistic diabetes healthcare. “Untreated diabetes distress represents a very serious health impact for people with diabetes. We know that people with diabetes experiencing emotional problems are more likely to have worsened diabetes outcomes, higher risk of complications, lower quality of life, and higher healthcare costs.” A/Professor Johnson said. “Identifying and addressing diabetes distress, through regular screening and monitoring, is recommended in Australian and International health professional guidelines, and could be a cost effective way to improve the health of people with diabetes. This handbook provides health professionals with the practical information and tools they need to effectively address this serious issue.” Electronic copies of the Diabetes and Emotional Health handbook for health professionals are free and can be accessed here: www.ndss.com.au/online-resources-for-health-professionals. A free factsheet about diabetes distress for people with diabetes has also been developed and can be accessed here: www.ndss.com.au/diabetes-distress The National Diabetes Services Scheme is an initiative of the Australian Government administered with the assistance of Diabetes Australia.