Diabetes sufferers 'go through bereavement process' after diagnosis
It can take sufferers up to 18 years to feel 'in control' of condition if they don't receive support
10:00 GMT, 17 July 2012
Diabetes sufferers have a 'bereavement-style' response to finding out they have the condition, a study suggests.
Researchers said that following diagnosis, type 2 diabetes sufferers go on a journey of denial, anger, depression, acceptance and finally a sense of hope and positivity for the future.
Experts from the University of Nottingham called for healthcare professionals to treat patients as individuals after they identified the various stages of coping following diagnosis.
A third of those questioned felt diabetes support was unhelpful or inadequate
They said it can take up to 18 years for a diabetes sufferer to feel 'in control' of the condition if they are not properly supported by healthcare workers.
Some people can take as little as one month to get to grips with the illness, showing a huge variation in the amount of time it takes sufferers to adjust to living with type 2 diabetes.
The majority of people feel as though they can successfully manage the condition between two and three years after diagnosis, according to the research which was commissioned by retailer Boots. But one in four people still needed help to reach the final stage.
A third of those questioned felt support was unhelpful or inadequate while half thought there was room for improvement.
Researchers studied 163 people living with the condition and discovered that if sufferers suspected they may have the illness prior to diagnosis, they found it easier to adjust.
The authors suggest that if healthcare professionals know what emotional stage sufferers are at, they can provide more effective support.
Dr Neil Coulson, associate professor of health psychology and author of the study, said: 'There can be an assumption that people diagnosed with the same condition can have similar adjustment pathways.
'However, speaking first hand to people with type 2 diabetes reveals there is a need to treat people as individuals, especially those who are getting 'stuck' and need help to move forwards positively in managing their condition.
'Understanding how people react to initial diagnosis, and then to the challenges they face as they go on their individual journey, in conjunction with an ability to recognise what psychological stage a person is undergoing at any given time, could help us provide more effective support.'
Diabetes UK director of care policy and intelligence Simon O'Neill added: 'This study provides an insight into the factors that impact how quickly and successfully people adjust to living with type 2 diabetes.
'We hope these findings can help those living with the condition, as well as the healthcare team that supports them, better understand and manage their condition so they can feel in control and better equipped to prevent unnecessary complications.'
Peter Bainbridge, director of pharmacy service at Boots UK, added: 'This helps us to shape the information and support we offer and is particularly important for helping our pharmacists to have meaningful conversations that make a real difference in motivating people to successfully feel in control of their type 2 diabetes.'
Diabetes affects 2.8 million people in the UK but it is estimated that a further one million people have the condition but have not been diagnosed.
Around 90 per cent of people living with diabetes have type 2 diabetes – which occurs when not enough insulin is produced by the body for it to function properly, or when the body's cells do not react to insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is linked to unhealthy lifestyles and obesity.