Moving forward with self-management

The 3rd International Conference of the Diabetes Self-Management Alliance. 

by Dr Christel Hendrieckx


It was a long trip from Melbourne to Galway to attend the third conference of the Diabetes Self-Management Alliance (DSMA)* in early November. When I arrived in Dublin, there waited another three-hour bus trip; sliding trough a grey and rainy landscape – but it was worth the effort. The local organisers, Prof Sean Dinneen and his team, were so welcoming and a guarantee for a high quality meeting. The format of the conference was very different from other diabetes meetings.

In the plenary sessions, two speakers from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) (M. Cassidy & J. Featherstone) gave an update on the UK diabetes prevention program ‘Healthier You’. This was followed by the launch of the Health Service Executive (HSE) National Framework for Self-Management Support for Chronic Conditions by Dr. S. O’Keeffe and Dr. C. Mullaney. On the photo, you see people showing the document, and you can also download the Framework here. It entails a long-term vision and implementation plan to provide better support to people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Next up was Gráinne Flynn, a person who has been living with type 1 diabetes for more than 20 years and a patient advocate shared with the 130 attendees her personal experiences managing the condition and the importance of peer support. This led nicely into my presentation about our ‘Diabetes and Emotional Health’ NDSS handbook and toolkit. Our work raised a lot of interest among the attendees. The next day Prof Molly Byrne (NUI Galway, Ireland) gave an overview of her team’s work in public and patient engagement in setting the Irish agenda for future behavioural research in diabetes.

After these formal presentations at the start of the day, we moved on to workshops. In total, there were eight workshops on offer, and over the two days we could attend six. The topics were very diverse. I attended sessions on the application of the COM-B model to better understand attendance at structured diabetes education; using the stages-of-change model as a tool to change our practice; technologies for self-management support; putting prevention into practice; changing our approach to adults with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes; and incorporating self-management support into undergraduate curricula for healthcare professionals. There was also one workshop on peer support and one on sports psychology that I was unable to attend. It was hands-on, interactive and constructive. This was a great way to meet and talk with other participants, stimulating international networking and exchange of ideas.

The 2018 Conference is definitely, a meeting to look out for!

*DSMA is an international collaboration that aims to raise the profile of diabetes self-management as a therapeutic area.

Dr Christel Hendrieckx was an invited speaker at the DSMA conference, with her flights, registration and accommodation supported by the conference organisers.