Diabetes Management Research

The focus is to develop and evaluate research based and innovative methods in patient education, social support of patients, and support related to work life and diabetes 

The portfolio of the Diabetes Management Research group comprises the following areas:
  1. Models, methods and tools for patient education and support
  2. Models, methods and tools to improve psychosocial health in diabetes
  3. Family approaches to prevention and management of diabetes
  4. Exploration of challenges, preferences and needs in relation to diabetes and work life as well as research based development of appropriate support interventions
Innovative patient education models cover the development of new and sustainable models, methods and tools linked to diabetes education and support. Patient education programs are more likely to be effective if they are based on participatory and person-centred health education principles as well as principles for adult learning and empowerment. The research group has developed a number of patient education concepts. “The balancing person” about the needs for education and support in people with chronic disease and “The health education juggler” about competences needed in health care professionals for performing participatory patient education are basic models. With this theoretical background we have developed health education concepts consisting of concrete tools designed to support dialogue and participation and to focus on the individual needs of specific groups such as people with short or no education, people with psychiatric disease, people from different ethnic groups and families with type 2 diabetes.

The psychosocial aspects of diabetes are many and burdensome. Research in this area covers psychological as well as social issues of people with diabetes and their family members who are often significantly influenced by living with a person with diabetes. We have mapped psychosocial needs and preferences in type 1 and type 2 diabetes and are developing models and methods for psychological and social support, e.g. peer support. 

Diabetes and work life research strive to map the impact of diabetes within the Danish workforce on a register level as well as an individual level. We have detailed the incidence of diabetes amongst the workforce and its impact within different occupational groups. Subsequently we have begun to undertake qualitative research to determine what concrete risks diabetes poses to work ability and how its negative impact within the workforce can be prevented or ameliorated for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 

Research approach

Patient education research involves translational research including intervention development, feasibility test, evaluation and implementation research. Our work revolves around a variety of quantitative methods such as surveys and effect measurements; and qualitative methods such as workshops, observations, video recordings of teaching sessions and consultations; and interviews. We aim at obtaining contextual sensitivity in the research process by allowing dynamic interactions with patients, health care professionals and other stakeholders with a role in caring for people with diabetes and chronic illness. Our research also includes the development of new research methods such as methods for evaluating quality, effects and implementation processes. 

The research group represents several scientific disciplines, including public health science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, health education studies, and pharmacology.  This diversity has proven to provide substantial synergy and has added value to a field of research, that needs innovation and creativity just as much as it requires a firm grounding in scientific knowledge and valid research methods.

The research group addresses the five principles across research areas: participation, action competence, a positive and broad concept of health, the importance of context and a focus on equity in health.

Target groups comprise people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, health care professionals/other professionals, family members of people with diabetes, and to some extent people with other chronic disease such as heart and lung disease. The health care system is also an object for research.

National and international collaboration
In addition to close links with other units at Steno, the research group has established fruitful collaboration and other links with international as well as national partners. These include:

  • The Leicester Diabetes Centre, University of Leicester, UK – diabetes education
  • University of San Francisco (Professor Lawrence Fisher) – diabetes distress
  • The University of North Carolina (Professor Ed Fisher, Global Director of Peers for Progress) - peer support
  • University of Southampton (Professor Richard Holt) - psychosocial aspects of diabetes
  • University of San Diego and Behavioural Diabetes Institute (Professor Bill Polonsky) - diabetes distress
  • Charles Darwin University, Australia (Timothy Skinner, Head of Psychological and Clinical Sciences) – diabetes psychology and education 
  • The Danish Diabetes Association, the Capital Region and region of Southern Denmark, a number of Danish municipalities and universities (KU, SDU/SIF, DPU)