Researchers to examine body image in young women with type 1 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on January 11, 2013

Researchers to examine body image in young women with type 1 diabetes

Researchers in the UK are undertaking work to look at the experience of body image in young women with type 1 diabetes. Nicola Pilkington from Lancaster University is recruiting women from the North West of England ages 16 to 25 who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before December 2011.

‘Body image refers to the subjective evaluation of your own body or physical appearance, including both your level of satisfaction with your appearance and your experience of emotions in specific situations,’ said Pilkington. Research suggests that young women with type 1 diabetes are more likely to feel negatively about their bodies than young women without diabetes, and may find it harder to follow their treatment regime as a result. However, there are also many people with type 1 diabetes who feel positively about their appearance, despite the additional challenges that diabetes can present.

So far no research has asked young women with type 1 diabetes about their experiences of body image. ‘This study aims to explore young women’s views of their body, weight and other aspects of their appearance, and the relationship between these and diabetes care. The researchers are interested in learning from both positive and negative experiences of young women with type 1 diabetes,’ said Pilkington. ‘Improving our understanding of how type 1 influences body image is important so that professionals working with young women who may be having problems in this area can make sure they are offering the best help and support possible,’ she added.

Participants will be invited to meet with the researcher for a short interview of approximately 45 to 60 minutes, in which they will be asked to discuss their experiences of body image, including their views of their own physical appearance and their ideas about how this relates to their diabetes.

Quote from DiabetesForum.com : “I thought I was losing weight but my wife says no . I would like to lose at least 20 pounds I would feel better . I find this plays on you after time.”

The interview will be audio recorded and direct quotes may be used in publications related to the study. However, personal information will be changed or removed so that participants cannot be identified. Otherwise all personal information will be kept confidential from the participant’s diabetes care team, Diabetes UK, which is funding the study, and other organisations and will be securely stored at Lancaster University.

It is possible that participants may find some of the issues raised during their interview upsetting although participants can choose not to answer questions that make them feel uncomfortable. If participants become upset, they are free to stop the interview or to take a break. The researcher would also offer to speak to the participant about their worries at the end of the interview. All participants will be provided with an information sheet after the interview, which will include details of other sources of support in case the participant still feels worried.

As pregnancy involves marked changes to the body, women’s experiences of body image are likely to differ significantly while they are pregnant, therefore women who are pregnant cannot take part in this study.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com 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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