Diabetes programme evaluation shows positive health outcomes

Saturday 14 November was World Diabetes Day 2020, a global campaign that highlights the vital role of healthcare and other professionals in educating people with diabetes to help them overcome the challenges they face and to manage the impact of the condition. 

The Diabetes and WELLbeing (DWELL) Programme, evaluated by a team of researchers at Christ Church and led by Professor Eleni Hatzidimitriadou, is an innovative 12-week psychoeducational programme for people with type 2 diabetes, which aims to empower participants to better self-manage their condition. 

The programme comprises four key areas – education, nutrition, physical activity and wellbeing, and is underpinned by motivational interviewing and peer support to ensure a tailored approach. Partners from the UK, Belgium, France and the Netherlands have been working collaboratively since 2016 to design and deliver the programme in their respective countries.

Although delivery of the DWELL programme was temporarily disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all European partners continue working together and the project has been extended into 2021. The Christ Church team had the opportunity to share preliminary evaluation results in a workshop as part of the 16th World Congress in Public Health, which took place virtually on 13-16 in October 2020. The workshop highlighted that, so far, DWELL participants in the UK and France had reported:

  • Improvements in physical health outcomes, including reduced weight, waist circumference, Body Mass Index (BMI) and average blood glucose (HbA1c) levels
  • Increased self-efficacy and empowerment
  • Greater understanding of their diabetes condition, increased optimism for treatment and long-term prognosis of their illness, and personal control over their diabetes
  • Reduction in eating in response to external eating cues (such as the sight/smell of food) and increased restrained eating.

Additionally, at the end of the programme, feedback from participant focus groups suggested that their main motivation to join the DWELL programme was to gain knowledge for better management of their type 2 diabetes and overall health. Positive aspects of the DWELL programme included feeling supported, the programme’s holistic and tailored approach, flexible content and set up. Participation in DWELL programme, according to feedback, led to making long-term lifestyle changes, enhanced wellbeing and self-care, and better self-management skills. 

During the first lockdown period in the UK, feedback from an online focus group also noted the impact and challenges of Covid-19, including having to shield as a high risk group, reluctance to attend medical appointments, raised levels of stress, and not being able to access certain foods or ingredients. Such feedback raises valuable points for consideration, not just for DWELL but for other psychoeducational programmes that focus on long-term health conditions.

“It has changed my life completely. I have taken control – I am now looking after myself, give myself time and do things for myself, and as a result I am also more able to support others in my life”. DWELL participant, UK

Although these results cannot be generalised until the full evaluation has been conducted, Professor Hatzidimitriadou, Head of Research and Enterprise in the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Social Care, said: “Early findings from the DWELL programme evaluation emphasise the need to incorporate a holistic, tailored approach to structured patient education for type 2 diabetes which includes additional elements around nutrition, physical activity and wellbeing, accessibility, follow-up support and evaluation. We look forward to sharing the final evaluation results in due course.”

The DWELL project has received funding from the Interreg 2 Seas programme 2014-2020 co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under subsidy contract No 2S01-058.

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