Positivity and optimism is the focus of a new study exploring the best way to help people with diabetes and depression.
Liverpool researchers are hoping to use the research findings to develop a self-management programme which will encourage participants to be more upbeat about managing both conditions.
As part of the study, an online questionnaire based upon a psychological exercise known as the Best Possible Self (BPS) has been created. Previous research has shown BPS tasks can encourage people to set goals, boost their mood and help them feel in control of certain elements of their lives, such as illness.
However, the protocol has never before been applied to helping people with diabetes, so the research team are eager to see how it might impact self-management of the condition.
The study will last for four weeks. Some participants will be assigned the BPS tasks straightaway and some will be given access to the exercises at a later stage. The outcomes, such as their change in mood and the perception of their diabetes will be noted down throughout the course of the trial and compared with those who were given later access to the BPS exercises.
PhD student Benjamin Gibso, from Liverpool John Moores University and is leading the three-year study, said: “The aim is to develop a diabetes self-management aid that can empower people, help them set goals, and give them more control over their illness. In the long-ru, we’re hoping to have built something that could even improve clinical results such as HbA1c.
“However, one of the issues that we, other researchers and even patients have noticed is that there’s quite a lot of focus on the negative within current psychological therapies. They address negative thoughts and they tackle stress but they don’t encourage positive feelings such as optimism, hope or happiness. The assumption is that these things will emerge in the absence of the negative but that’s not always the case.”
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said people who have diabetes are three times more likely to be diagnosed with a mental condition such as depression. If not recognised and treated, the condition can impact diabetes self-management. However, depression can be addressed and treated with family and medical support, as well as through eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

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