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Study says letting your boss know you have type 2 diabetes leads to better health management

by Barbara Hewitt on July 7, 2017

People with type 2 diabetes often don’t tell their employers about their condition, but new research suggests that doing so could help them manage their health better during working hours.

The study carried out by researchers at the Steno Diabetes Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, found that type 2 diabetics who inject or take several days off work sick were more likely to tell their employer about their condition.

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But the study of 720 people who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for eight years, also found that those taking just tablets were less likely to tell their employers about their health.

Lead researcher Dr Kasper Olesen said that while there may not be a legal obligation to tell an employer that you have type 2 diabetes, as is the case in Denmark, doing so is a good idea.

‘In most jobs, however, disclosure of diabetes at the workplace is necessary for optimal self-management during work hours. Nondisclosure may lead to impaired self-management behaviours, such as adverse eating, inexpedient consumption of medication, delayed glucose monitoring or delayed management of hypoglycaemia,’ he said.

In the study participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about whether their employer and colleagues knew they had type 2 diabetes. A total of 77% of people admitted they had told their employer about their diabetes and 87% said they had told a colleague.

Those who had taken at least 10 days off sick or used injectable therapies were most likely to disclose their diabetes to their employer.

In addition, participants were asked to what degree they considered it an employer’s responsibility to secure a flexible work environment for people with diabetes.

‘These findings point to psychosocial work environment factors as important determinants of disclosure, which is consistent with previous studies. Despite the potential benefits of disclosing diabetes, an employee might fear, for whatever reason, that disclosure of diabetes may have unwanted consequences,’ the research report said.

The researchers pointed out that a fear of being singled out or stigmatised can be a barrier for disclosure and they believe that further studies are needed to explore the impact of psychosocial work environment and the pros and cons of disclosing a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes at work

‘Despite the potential benefits of disclosing diabetes, an employee might fear, for whatever reason, that disclosure of diabetes may have unwanted consequences. Studies have shown that onset of diabetes is a predictor for future income loss,’ it added.

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