The development of the Diabetes and Emotional Health handbook and toolkit

Have you ever wondered how the ACBRD develops evidence-based resources to support health professionals and people with diabetes? A new publication from ACBRD describes how

By Jennifer Halliday


By now, many followers of the ACBRD will be aware of the Diabetes and Emotional Health handbook, which we developed in partnership with Diabetes Australia and the NDSS. Published in 2016, this handbook provides health professionals with practical tips about how to identify and address psychological problems commonly experienced by people with diabetes, such as diabetes distress, fear of hypoglycaemia, and depression. It is accompanied by a suite of factsheets for people with diabetes. But have you wondered how the handbook came about? Or what health professionals think of it? If so, keep reading.

To develop the handbook in a rigorous, evidence-based way, we used a process called ‘formative evaluation’. Broadly, the phases of work include: 1) reviewing the problem and previous efforts to address it; 2) understand the target population; and 3) pretest the intervention materials. Each of these phases includes several smaller steps. We formed a project team, and established an Expert Reference Group of key stakeholders (including people with diabetes, health professionals and academics). We reviewed the published scientific literature, and consulted with additional stakeholders in order to plan, develop and test the handbook structure, content and design. In total, this process took a couple of years. Then, once we felt we had a ‘near final’ draft, we asked health professionals to each read a chapter, and interviewed them about it. This served as a final ‘check’ that it met the needs of its intended audience (i.e. health professionals) and that it was ready to publish. Overall, more than 50 people were consulted about the handbook content! We have recently written a paper about the handbook development and published it in an open access journal. This means that anybody can read it without having to pay a fee. You can access the paper here.

Now more than ever, as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to pay attention to our emotional health. We are seeing health professional organisations such as the Australian Diabetes Society, National Association of Diabetes Centres, and Mental Health Professionals Network supporting their members with resources and webinars (e.g. about providing diabetes support during COVID-19 and navigating telehealth). We have worked with Diabetes Australia and the NDSS to add to our suite of factsheets: ‘Managing worry about COVID-19 and diabetes’ factsheet. It was originally developed by Dr Rose Stewart and Sophie Augarde, and adapted by the ACBRD on behalf of the NDSS. In addition to the English version, this factsheet is available in 26 other languages.

Pivots and collaborations such as these are proof that we are all in this together to protect our emotional health as well as our physical health as we navigate this ‘new normal’.

To read more of our research about mental health and resource development, check out our previous blogs.

Halliday JA, Speight J, Bennet A, Beeney LJ, Hendrieckx C. The Diabetes and Emotional Health Handbook and Toolkit for Health Professionals Supporting Adults With Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: Formative Evaluation. JMIR Formative Research. 2020;4(2):e15007. DOI: 10.2196/15007