Jennifer Halliday and colleagues have been awarded funding to investigate the feasibility of routine assessment of emotional health in type 1 diabetes centres
By Jennifer Halliday
On the eve of World Diabetes Day, Diabetes Victoria held a reception at Government House at which 21 Victorian recipients  of the 2019 Diabetes Australia Research Program  (DARP) General Grants were announced. On behalf of a multidisciplinary research team, Jennifer Halliday  was delighted to receive the award, which was presented by The Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria and patron of Diabetes Victoria. The project to be funded is: Type 1 Diabetes Consultation Tool: a mixed methods adaptation and feasibility study in Australian type 1 diabetes tertiary care settings.
About the research
The Type 1 Consultation Tool (T1CT) is a brief, evidence-based tool designed to promote holistic diabetes care. It enables routine assessment and discussion of diabetes distress and awareness of hypoglycaemia symptoms to be included in clinical consultations (further details below). The DARP General Grant funding will enable the team to:
- adapt the T1CT for use in Australia (as the tool was initially developed and trialled in the UK)
- investigate the feasibility/acceptability of implementing the T1CT in Australian type 1 diabetes tertiary centres
- explore trends in holistic diabetes outcomes and care 3 months later.
This research is an expected first step towards implementation of the T1CT nationally, and towards implementation of routine mental health assessment in diabetes care, as recommended in the National Diabetes Strategy . The research will commence in January 2019 and continue for 12 months.
The research team includes Jennifer Halliday, Dr Christel Hendrieckx  and Prof Jane Speight (ACBRD), A/Prof Neale Cohen  (Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute), Prof Peter Colman  and Dr Spiros Fourlanos  (Royal Melbourne Hospital), Natalie Wischer  (National Association of Diabetes Centres), and Dr Pratik Choudhary  and Prof Jackie Sturt  (King’s College London, UK).
Why is this research important?
Diabetes distress is a common emotional response to the burden of living with diabetes. It is a major barrier to maintaining optimal diabetes self-care, HbA1c, and quality of life. Impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia (IAH) is the reduction or absence of early warning signs and symptoms of hypoglycaemia. IAH is associated with higher risk of severe hypoglycaemia, which can have serious physical consequences (e.g. sudden collapse, seizures) and psychological consequences (e.g. fear of hypoglycaemia, impaired quality of life). Research studies show that diabetes distress can be reduced and awareness of hypoglycaemic symptoms improved following appropriate clinical support, changes in treatment or referrals (e.g. for education). Unfortunately, both IAH and diabetes distress often go undetected in clinical practice. The T1CT includes brief measures of diabetes distress and IAH; thus, routine use of this tool will help to identify people at risk, so they can be offered timely and appropriate support and treatment.
About World Diabetes Day
World Diabetes Day occurs on the 14th November each year and aims to raise awareness about diabetes. Each year, a different theme is celebrated. This year’s theme is family and diabetes , recognising the impact of diabetes upon family members and promoting the role of family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes.