The study, led by the University of Bristol and supported by Diabetes UK , is funded by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute and is being carried out in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of face-to-face diabetes education, routine check-up appointments, and peer support groups due to the government’s distancing measures. The project will assist Diabetes UK in making decisions on the type of support people with diabetes currently need and how it should be provided.
The project also aims to digitalise originally face-to-face peer support groups for people with diabetes, not currently possible due to social and physical distancing measures. This will enable the continuity of mutual support networks.
The research team plans to help three Bristol-based diabetes peer support groups digitalise their meetings via their computers or mobile phones. If found to be beneficial for wellbeing and diabetes management, the framework will be distributed to more than 300 diabetes groups around the country.
Dr Sarah Sauchelli Toran , Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol and the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Bristol BRC - Nutrition), said: "For most people living with diabetes coronavirus is a mild illness but during the pandemic we have learnt that some may be more vulnerable to developing the severe form of the illness if they do get the virus.
"Diabetes-related concerns have led to weekly calls to the Diabetes UK helpline doubling during lockdown. Through our research we aim to help Diabetes UK identify and address the needs of people with diabetes during the government’s response to the pandemic. We are especially keen to hear from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, who are more likely to have type 2 diabetes and are at a greater risk of severe illness from the virus."
The aims of the project are:
To identify the key concerns of people with diabetes regarding diabetes self-management during the coronavirus pandemic and to assist Diabetes UK to make decisions on the type of support people with diabetes currently need and how it should be provided.
In the long run, a digital platform for peer support could be used for people with diabetes who have limited access to the traditional form of peer support group meetings, such as people with mobility issues and people with caring responsibilities.
The survey is completely anonymous. Participation in the study is voluntary and participants will have the right to withdraw at any point.
People will be asked to complete a survey with questions about their wellbeing, the sources used to obtain information/advice/support, opinions on the advice people with diabetes are receiving, and any improvements people would like to see in relation to guidance/advice.
Survey responses will be grouped according to diabetes type. This will enable Diabetes UK to provide support that is tailored to the specific needs of people with different types of diabetes.
Adults aged 18 years or over who have a diagnosis of diabetes can participate along with parents, carers or partners of people with diabetes.
To take part in the survey, visit Diabetes support during the coronavirus pandemic survey.