press release
Published: 14 November 2018

World Diabetes Day – What is the School of Health Sciences at Surrey doing to improve diabetes care?

By Natasha Meredith

What is being done to improve diabetes care in the UK? Take a look at what research and teaching is taking place within the Long-term Conditions and Ageing Cluster within the School of Health Sciences.

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Getty Images

Diabetes is a growing worldwide public health concern with the number of people diagnosed worldwide expected to rise to 522million by 2030. In the UK, the cost of this condition to the NHS is phenomenal with the current cost of direct patient care (treatment, intervention and complications) for those living with diabetes estimated to be £9.8 billion.

Something has to be done to reduce the impact of type 2 diabetes on people, their families and the health care systems supporting them. A recent £550,000 award from NHS England has meant diabetes researchers at the University of Surrey, including Dr Debbie Cooke from the School of Health Sciences, can work with experts at North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group to use online, digital platforms, embedded in primary care, to encourage and support people with type 2 diabetes to make and sustain lifestyle changes, through healthy eating, weight management and physical activity.  The digital innovators with whom the team is working provide online health coaches to support people to build habits that stick using daily support and technology.

This will help people deal with the lifestyle elements of their diabetes but what about the emotional side of dealing with a long-term condition? This is not always easy to identify and may be missed by health care professionals especially when working in a time-limited environment. Between 20-44 per cent of people report distress due to living with diabetes and the numbers of people with depression and anxiety in the diabetes population is much higher than in the general population.

Unmet psychological and emotional needs can act as a barrier to people caring for their diabetes.   One of the digital innovators in the BEAT Diabetes team, SilverCloud Health Ltd (the UK’s largest provider of online psychological support) have developed a platform to address the emotional needs of people living with diabetes.   

Researchers at Surrey are also helping to develop and evaluate diabetes programmes that are recommended by the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence. Dr Debbie Cooke is also a member of the National Institute of Health Research’s Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating (DAFNE) group. DAFNE is a programme for adults with type 1 diabetes that provides skills-based learning around carbohydrate counting, insulin dose adjustment and blood glucose monitoring that can support self-management. Dr Cooke will be examining how behaviour change techniques and principles from clinical psychological theory that have been added to the new, DAFNEplus programme enable people to improve management of their diabetes and quality of life.

There are many ground breaking projects happening here at Surrey to improve diabetes care and develop new treatments, but perhaps the most important thing we are working on is improving the training of the next generation of health professionals.

The dedication of our staff and development of an innovative curriculum provides our students with an in-depth understanding of what it is like for people to live with long-term conditions such as diabetes and how they can support them to self- manage. Our teaching is focused on how non-directive, non-judgemental communication and sharing of information can enhance quality of life for individuals, their families and carers.

This person-centred philosophy of empowerment is embedded in our curricula. These educational goals aim to help develop practitioners at every level and discipline to meet the needs of people living with diabetes, their families and carers.

If you would like to join us at Surrey and help improve the lives of people living with diabetes, take a look here.


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Media Contacts

Natasha Meredith
Media Officer (Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences)
Phone: +44 (0)1483 684380

External Communications and PR team
Phone: +44 (0)1483 684380 / 688914 / 684378
Out of hours: +44 (0)7773 479911