ACBRD well-represented at Diabetes UK

Three of our researchers, Prof Jane Speight, Dr Jessica Browne and Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott, visited the UK in March to present their work at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference.

by Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott and Dr Jessica Browne


The conference, held in Manchester from 8-10 March, is one of the largest gatherings of health professionals, scientists and researchers in the UK. It provided an opportunity for the ACBRD to promote its work on an international stage, network with key colleagues, and learn about new developments in the field of diabetes research.

From a behavioural perspective, a key conference highlight was the symposium entitled ‘Diabetes distress: What works?’, held on the first afternoon and attended by >400 delegates. This symposium, convened by clinical psychologist Dr Mark Davies (Belfast), featured presentations from leading international researchers including Prof Frans Pouwer (University of Southern Denmark), the ACBRD’s Prof Jane Speight and Dr Bill Polonsky (Behavioral Diabetes Institute, San Diego). Prof Pouwer discussed what is diabetes distress, prevalence of the problem, how is it measured and why is it important. Prof Speight then gave an overview of the research evidence for what works to reduce diabetes distress. Finally, Dr Polonsky discussed what health professionals can do in clinical practice to address and reduce diabetes distress.

In separate oral symposia, Jane and Elizabeth presented psychological outcomes (satisfaction and diabetes-specific quality of life) from the Hypo COMPaSS trial, which provides an important complementary perspective to the published medical outcomes. Jessica presented her research about stigmatising messages and images of type 2 diabetes in the media. Both Elizabeth and Jessica were delighted to be shortlisted respectively for the self-management education and psychological care awards.

Other sessions of interest included the symposium on severe mental illness chaired by Prof Richard Holt, which emphasised the urgent need for integrated care for people with comorbid severe mental illness and diabetes. Lindsay Oliver gave the prestigious Janet Kinson award lecture, asking ‘Whose diabetes is it anyway?’ highlighting her journey over many years working on DAFNE and DESMOND. Her reflection on how shocking it is that people learning to drive a car have more hours of structured training than people learning to live with a lifelong condition like diabetes gathered significant momentum across social media. A workshop on language and communication was the first workshop in the history of the conference to be convened and facilitated by two people living with diabetes (non health professionals). It was well-attended and highlighted the prominent role of Diabetes Australia’s position statement in igniting this conversation to improve how we talk about diabetes and why it matters.