A focus on practical strategies at the #ADA2020 as #ADAgoesVirtual

Behavioural highlights from the 80th Scientific Sessions of American Diabetes Association

By Prof Jane Speight


The 80th annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association was held earlier this month (12-16 June 2020). This milestone meeting should have been held in Chicago, but instead, it was held virtually for the first time. Over 12,500 people attended from across the world. Here are a few highlights focused on psychosocial / behavioural aspects of diabetes:

  • Dr Mary de Groot delivered her presidential address ’50 years of behavioural science in diabetes – a 2020 vision of the future’ (Saturday 13 June): She argued that ‘behaviour is at the heart of every diabetes intervention’ and that ‘the time has come to recognise and celebrate the foundational role that behaviour plays in all aspects of diabetes’. She also made the case for “A systematic funding program is needed to provide the next generation of behavioral scientists with the training opportunities needed to integrate knowledge across disciplines and clinical care environments, and to support settings in which to use their talents and training.”
  • Dr Bill Polonsky delivered the ADA’s Outstanding Diabetes Educator in Diabetes Award, ‘Tedious, tiresome and dull: an unrecognised problem that we can solve’ (Saturday 13 June). He said his challenge was to ‘discuss boredom without being boring!’. His three top tips were: 1) reduce the content: addressing participants concerns is more important than explaining everything; 2) make room for ‘why bother?’: every session should end with participants indicating what they might now try or do differently; 3) admit there is a problem: track no-show and dropout rates and survey those people to find out what is missing for them.
  • ‘Strength-based approaches in diabetes care – challenging the deficit model’ (symposium; Sunday 14 June): Presentations included ‘What teens with type 1 do RIGHT’ by Dr Marissa Hilliard, who provided insights about how to equip both parents and health professionals to build strengths among youth with diabetes; and ‘resilience-based diabetes self-management education in African American adults with type 2 diabetes
  • ‘Hypoglycaemia – All about the brain’ (symposium; Monday 15 June): Dr Therese Anderbo discussed the associations between personality, psychological factors and risk of hypoglycaemia; Dr Pratik Choudhary presented new data about scanning techniques that examine how the brain reacts to hypoglycaemia and how an improved understanding of behaviour chan lead to better treatment strategies; and A/Prof Linda Gonder-Frederick discussed the thoughts and beliefs that can increase risk of hypoglycaemia.
  • ‘Diabetes meets the Sandman’ (symposium; Tuesday 16 June): Dr Sarah Jaser and colleagues reviewed the latest evidence on the impact of sleep loss or insufficient sleep on diabetes risk and management

On Saturday 13 June, Prof David O’Neal presented the findings of our 6-month Australian Hybrid Closed Loop (HCL) trial: at 26 weeks, those using HCL had 15% greater ‘time-in-range’ than those using manual insulin delivery, with reduced high and low glucose time, and lower HbA1c. There were no differences between groups in treatment satisfaction or diabetes distress.

Finally, congratulations to our colleague Professor David Simmons (Western Sydney University) who delivered the prestigious Norbert Freinkel Award Lecture. David is currently the Chief Investigator of the world’s largest trial of how to treat gestational diabetes diagnosed early in pregnancy.

If you would like to watch any of the 800+ archived presentations, you can find details on how to register here.

Next year’s conference is expected to take place in Washington DC: 25-29 June 2021.

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