Diabetes UK, mental health for people with diabetes


continued over

levels of £44 million until at least 2021.

Diabetes UK's Chief Executive Chris

Askew commented, "Diabetes affects

more than 4.5 million people in the UK.

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. Effective diabetes care requires

that a person's emotional needs are taken

into account alongside their physical care

needs. We want to see a system where

specialist support - from people who

understand diabetes - is made available

to those who need it."

For a copy of the report go to:


Help yourself

Then there is the matter of selfcompassion, the

fact that living with

diabetes is hard enough already, so

maybe we need to be gentle with

ourselves sometimes. In a report entitled,

Does kindness itself matter?, first

published in 2015 researchers found

that self-compassion buffers the negative

impact of diabetes-distress on HbA1c

(contributors Friis, Johnson, Cutfield and

Consedine). They found that higher selfcompassion is associated with mental

and physical health benefits in both

healthy and chronically ill populations.

Their study investigated the role of selfcompassion in predicting


diabetes-specific distress and HbA1c

in patients with diabetes. As expected,

diabetes-specific distress was a better

predictor of HbA1c than depression; selfcompassion moderated the relationship

between distress and HbA1c such that

higher distress predicted higher HbA1c at

lower levels of self-compassion, but not at

higher levels of self-compassion.

The study concluded that, in addition

to further demonstrating the link between

distress and metabolic outcomes, the

findings suggested that self-compassion

might buffer patients from the negative

metabolic consequences of diabetesdistress.

In a more recent assessment published

in November 2017 in the US looked at

how self-compassion is associated with

optimum selfcare behaviour, medical

outcomes and psychological well-being

in a cross-sectional sample of adults

with Type 1 diabetes. The aim was to

investigate the role of self-compassion in

diabetes outcomes, especially in times of


In the study the authors (Ferrari, Dal

Cin and Steele) collected data from 310

adults diagnosed with diabetes. The

questionnaire measured three primary

outcomes: self-management behaviours;

HbA1c levels and psychological wellbeing. Potential predictors

were also

assessed, including self-compassion,

social support, demographics and locus

of control (the idea that a person with an

internal locus believes they can influence

events and their outcomes, while

someone with an external locus of control

blames outside forces for things).

Lucky dip

The results found that self-compassion

had the most consistent association with

better outcomes, including all forms of

self-management behaviour, HbA1c levels

and psychological well-being. Internal

locus of control was also significantly

associated with better well-being and

HbA1c outcomes. Chance (luck) and

external locus of control were generally

associated with poorer outcomes.

We want to see a system

where specialist support

- from people who

understand diabetes - is

made available to those

who need it." - Chris

Askew, Diabetes UK



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