People with diabetes (PWD) are more likely to experience anxiety as compared to the general population. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), generalized anxiety disorder occurs in up to ~20% of people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It can be difficult to determine the exact reasons for the high prevalence, but many experts believe that in many cases, the anxiety is directly related to diabetes. There is a need for psychological care and self-care support in order for people living with diabetes to be proactive with their care and for overall wellbeing.
This week at the American Diabetes Association’s 80th Scientific Sessions, Dr.Soren. E. Skovlund and his team from Aalborg University in Denmark set out to evaluate the need for and access to psychological care and self-support for people with diabetes.
A national diabetes survey (Life with Diabetes 2019) was emailed to 38,820 members of the Danish Diabetes Association to help gauge the impact of diabetes on daily life, access to care, technology and services and to better understand the priorities and wishes of people living with diabetes. Notably, this is the “largest nationwide Danish survey to date to quantify as well as qualitatively characterize a major need for better access to psychological and other non-medical diabetes care in Denmark”.
- 19% of PWD felt distress (specifically defined as diabetes taking up “too much of daily life”).
- 18% of PWD (24% women vs. 12% men) reported the need for a psychologist but had not been referred to one.
- 36% of PWD and 21% of caregivers did not receive the support they needed to deal with the emotional aspects of diabetes management.
- 19% agreed that major need for system-wide change to improve psychosocial support; specifically, an analysis of over 1,000 responses found the following key areas of concern: 1) access to new technologies, 2) quality of care in primary clinical practice, 3) A “whole-person” care approach that extends beyond medicine (e.g., focus on exercise, diet, mental health, etc.).
Patients feel overwhelmed by managing chronic health conditions and many do not feel that their needs are being met by their healthcare providers. People living with diabetes need and deserve system-wide improvements including better access to new technology, quality of in-person care and whole-person care, including education about exercise, health and emotional health support.
Psychological care for patients who have diabetes is crucial to improving patient overall wellbeing and health outcomes by and their ability to care for themselves while navigating a chronic autoimmune disease.
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