Researcher highlights importance of peer support in diabetes management

Jack Woodfield
Thu, 22 Mar 2018
Researcher highlights importance of peer support in diabetes management
A UK researcher has addressed the importance of peer support in self-managing diabetes.

Emma Cartwright, from the University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, says peer support is now as important to her as her medication. Cartwright has type 1 diabetes and in an article published in The BMJ reveals how peer support became significant in helping her manage her condition.

Cartwright begins by referencing her poor diabetes control in the past, doing minimal blood tests and feeling like a failure when a test result showed she was outside of her target range. When her doctor asked, "What do you need to make things better?", it led to her attending an event where mental health and diabetes were addressed concurrently.

"At the meeting I met people who also had type 1 diabetes. As we compared blood test meters and hypo stories, I realised this was the first time I had talked about my diabetes outside of a hospital," said Cartwright.

"We all experienced the same difficulties, including not wanting to accept that our lives would be different from those of everyone around us; the constant judgment from doctors, friends, and strangers on our blood sugar results and what we were eating; and managing injections."

Cartwright exited the meeting rejuvenated and started to explore peer support groups. She now feels more engaged and informed about her diabetes, which has enabled her to feel more confident, including during appointments with her doctor.

"Peer support allowed me to no longer fear failure but to take it as a learning experience; it is part of my journey. Peer support is as important to my health now as my medication, support from healthcare professionals, and jelly babies."

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