What does and doesn’t work in programs for younger people with type 2 diabetes?

Our Centre has published a review of the design and evaluation of behaviour change programs for people with younger-onset type 2 diabetes

By Dr Amelia J Lake

Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common among younger people. So, diabetes care programs are needed for children and younger adults (under 40 years old) who live with type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, there are not many available, and it is unclear whether they are effective. There are calls for more and better health programs to support the needs of this group. Our aim was to understand what does and doesn’t work in programs for younger people with type 2 diabetes. 

We reviewed 11 programs and found several common problems that may have affected their success. For example, many programs have been developed for other groups and have not been adapted to meet young people’s needs. This is a problem because young people with diabetes often come from different cultures and have different needs to the original group. We also found that young people have not been involved in designing the programs. This is a problem because they are the people who use the programs; they know their needs and what will suit them. Finally, we found that programs focus on blood glucose levels and weight management. This is a problem because young people with type 2 diabetes are interested in other issues, like friendships and mental health. Addressing these issues can also help with diabetes care, so it is important to include them in programs. 

We suggest that future programs need to: 

      • be designed for, or adapted to suit, children, teens and adults aged under 40 years with type 2 diabetes. 
      • focus on improving mental health (as well as physical health)
      • involve young people with type 2 diabetes from the start of the design process. 

This review was an international collaboration by researchers from Australia (Dr Amelia Lake, ACBRD), Denmark (Dr Anne Bo, Aarhus University), and the United Kingdom (Dr Michelle Hadjiconstantinou, Leicester Diabetes Centre). The work was presented as a symposium at the 2021 International Congress of Behavioural Medicine conference in June 2021. 

Check out this blog to learn about related research.

Citation: Lake AJ, Bo A, Hadjiconstantinou M. Developing and evaluating behaviour change interventions for people with younger-onset type 2 diabetes: lessons and recommendations from existing programmes. Current Diabetes Reports, 2021; 21: 59, doi.org/10.1007/s11892-021-01432-1.

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