New results from a first-of-its-kind survey by Abbott has identified a clear disconnect between the perceptions of the British public and those living with diabetes when it comes to stigma surrounding the condition.
The survey of 1,500 people shows the UK population has a good understanding of the impact of managing the condition, accurately associating diabetes with “insulin” (76%), and “testing sugar levels” (40%)i. However, 80% of the general public claim to have never witnessed diabetes stigma, despite almost the same proportion of the diabetes community (73%) having seen stigmatising behaviour towards the condition, particularly on social media, TV and online.
The disconnect between the stigma experienced by people with diabetes and the general public’s lack of awareness of it, suggests widespread unconscious bias towards those with diabetes, which can lead to negative effects on emotional wellbeing and health outcomes. Roughly one in four (24%) of the people with diabetes surveyed agreed that others’ opinions had affected their ability to manage their condition. For people with diabetes this stigma can play out in many ways such as food judgement, social or workplace exclusion, or inadvertently making hurtful comments. Something as simple as ‘should you be eating that?’ can lead to feelings of blame and judgement.
Professor Deborah Christie, consultant clinical psychologist and clinical lead for paediatric and adolescent psychological services at University College London Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust said, “Abbott has uncovered important findings about the role that unconscious bias plays in diabetes stigma and the negative impact that this can have. Stigma experienced by people with diabetes is one of the largest barriers to them engaging with care and treatment. If you feel blamed or judged in any part of your life, then it can have a significant effect on your emotional wellbeing, and you will be less likely to engage with that area.”
To address the key points raised in the survey, Abbott has launched a new campaign in the UK, Let’s Change Perspective, to provide tools to help create better conversations around diabetes
To read more about the campaign CLICK HERE