Research call: Older Type 2s moving to insulin

Researchers at King’s College London are looking for older people with Type 2 diabetes or their carers who have recently started insulin treatment to take part in a study exploring their experiences.

The aim is to explore the experiences of older people with diabetes and their informal carers with insulin initiation and ongoing insulin support. Evidence of the experiences of older people with insulin use is limited. A systematic review undertaken as part of this study has revealed that psychological aspects of using insulin (anxiety, embarrassment) and physical factors, such as the side effects of treatment (potential hypoglycaemia) and reaction to insulin administration, are problematic for older people.

Type 2 diabetes is common in older people, affecting approximately 20% of those aged 65–79 (94 million people) worldwide. Managing blood glucose levels in older people with the condition can be challenging due to changes in physical function, psychological health and cognitive function. Older people may also become more dependent on social support to help them with their diabetes self-management, including taking medications, managing their diet and monitoring their blood glucose levels.

Given the progressive nature of diabetes, a significant proportion of older people with Type 2 diabetes require insulin therapy to help regulate their blood glucose levels and reduce the risks associated with hyperglycaemia. While insulin therapy in older people can make an important contribution to their diabetes control, there are specific challenges in the management of insulin and using it safely in this age group, including difficulty in administering insulin accurately. Performing self-care tasks can increase the risk of poor adherence, medication errors, hypoglycaemia, and hyperglycaemia.

Reducing hazards
When initiating insulin treatment in older people, co-morbidities, functional ability to administer insulin and monitor blood glucose, and appropriate treatment goal-setting and support for carers should be considered. To reduce the hazards associated with insulin use in this population, it is important to identify strategies to better support the safe use of insulin therapy in older people with Type 2 diabetes.

Gathering the experiences of insulin treatment from older people and their informal carers will inform the development of new interventions in designing and delivering services to support this patient group. The study will take six to nine months and is based on one-hour-long individual interviews, which will take place over the phone or face-to-face or virtual meetings, if possible.

“We are looking for people, or their informal carers, who are aged 70 or over, diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and have been on insulin treatment for the past six–24 months”, says researcher Chaya Langerman.

Interested participants will receive an information pack (covering letter, participant information sheet, consent form for participation in the study and consent form for filming release). They will be contacted within five days of posting to answer any questions.

Participants will also receive a £20 Amazon voucher, and any travel expenses will be reimbursed.

To find out more and to take part, email

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