by Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott


A commentary on the effect of words on health and diabetes has been published in Diabetes Spectrum. The author, Dr Dickinson, states that despite a push towards person-centred care in diabetes, the terminology used to communicate with and about people with diabetes remains largely unchanged in practice and research. This terminology stems from the traditional medical model for acute care provision and lacks relevance in modern diabtes care. Words used to discuss diabetes and its management may be experienced as judgemental, foster feelings of self-blame and distress, and, in turn, discourage self-care behaviours and health care appointment attendance.

Dickinson challenges health professionals to become more aware of diabetes-language and consider how their choice of words may negatively or positively affect people with diabetes. Dickinson directs readers to the Diabetes Australia position statement on communicating with and about people with diabetes, which was co-developed by the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes. This position statement provides a list of suggested terms to be avoided and useful alternative words or phrases.

Dickinson JK. Commentary: The Effect of Words on Health and Diabetes. Diabetes Spectrum. 2017 Feb 1;30(1):11-6.