Health professionals urged to understand the fears that diabetes brings

by Barbara Hewitt on February 3, 2017

Health professionals working with people with diabetes need to be aware that one of their biggest fears is low blood glucose levels.

Researchers in Australia found that worries about hypoglycaemia and how to cope when it happens affects one on seven people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

The researchers at the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes (ACBRD) point out that it can also affect their family members who sometimes need to assist in the event of a severe attack of hypoglycaemia.

They have now developed a handbook for those working with people with diabetes with the aim of helping those with the condition manage it better and those working in healthcare understand the fears.

Dr Christel Hendrieckx, a clinical psychologist with the ACBRD, said it is vital that health professionals ask people with diabetes about their actual experiences of hypoglycaemia during every consultation, including frequency and severity, management and their knowledge of and feelings about low blood glucose levels.

‘People with diabetes want opportunities to talk about their experiences of hypoglycaemia and any related fears, but it has to be handled in a sensitive and non-judgemental way. Often people with diabetes may be reluctant to talk about their experiences of hypoglycaemia because of concerns about losing their driver’s licence or job, or the associated stigma causing feelings of embarrassment, shame or guilt,’ she explained.

‘Many health professionals feel that they do not have the appropriate training to offer support to people with diabetes who have a fear of hypoglycaemia. This handbook is an important new resource for them. It will help health professionals feel more confident to have conversations about these fears during consultations and discuss effective strategies to manage and prevent hypoglycaemia,’ she added.

Professor Jane Speight, foundation director of the ACBRD, pointed out that people with diabetes may also experience other types of diabetes specific fears, including fear of diabetes-related complications and injections/needles.

‘These fears are common and are just as serious and deserving of attention as the physical complications of diabetes. Being worried about future diabetes related complications is one of the top concerns for people with diabetes,’ she said.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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