Diabetes Distress: Understanding the Hidden Struggles of Living with Diabetes and Exploring Intervention Strategies

Emma Berry, Sam Lockhart, Mark Davies, John Lindsay, Martin Dempster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
3352 Downloads (Pure)


Diabetes Distress is a rational emotional response to the threat of a life-changing illness. Distinct from depression, it is rooted in the demands of diabetes management and is a product of psychological adjustment. Diabetes distress has been found to be significantly associated with HbA1c and self-care, which demonstrates its clinical use in treatment outcomes. Interpersonal factors such as perceived support and protectiveness of partners significantly contribute to elevated distress, suggesting that these are valued areas of focus for interventions. Pioneering large-scale research, DAWN2, gives voices to the families of those with diabetes and reaffirms the need to consider psychosocial factors in routine diabetes care. Structured diabetes education programmes are the most widely used in helping individuals cope with diabetes, but they fail to consider the psychological or interpersonal aspects of diabetes management. Psycho-educational approaches are found to be effective in reducing diabetes distress while also improving HbA1c. Certain limitations in the current literature are discussed, along with future directions. Of utmost importance is the need for health practitioners, irrespective of background, to demonstrate an understanding of diabetes distress and actively engage in discussion with individuals struggling to cope with diabetes; to normalize this and integrate it into routine diabetes practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-283
Number of pages6
JournalPostgraduate Medical Journal
Issue number1075
Early online date31 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Diabetes Distress: Understanding the Hidden Struggles of Living with Diabetes and Exploring Intervention Strategies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this