Report Reveals Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on People With Type 1 Diabetes

Priscilla Lynch 

October 20, 2021

Almost half of surveyed UK adults with type 1 diabetes believe the COVID-19 pandemic—and the disruption to NHS diabetes services it triggered—is likely to have a long-term impact on their life with the condition, according to a new report from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) charity.

The JDRF surveyed 1152 people (858 adults with type 1 diabetes and 294 parents or carers of young people with type 1 diabetes) to reveal their experiences through the upheavals of the pandemic.

In response, 50% of adults with type 1 diabetes and 32% of parents of children with type 1 diabetes said they felt unsupported at times during the COVID-19 crisis, with 63% of adults reporting that they were unable to access their normal level of health care support. This is significantly higher than adults living with other health conditions, such as cancer or heart problems, where one-third felt unsupported.

The report found that there was a range and variation of care, according to particular local specialists and primary care service provision during the pandemic. In Yorkshire, 45% of surveyed adults with type 1 diabetes felt that the NHS had done its best to support them during the COVID-19 crisis compared with 71% in London.

The report shows that people with access to type 1 wearable medical technologies such as insulin pumps, flash and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) felt better able to manage their condition during the pandemic.

The report’s recommendations are:

  • Increased access to type 1 technology.

  • A choice of virtual, telephone and face to face appointments to provide people with type 1 diabetes with different ways to communicate with their health care professionals.

  • Improved communication from the NHS, which needs to be more proactive when care is disrupted.

  • People with type 1 diabetes to be at the heart of service design and delivery.

UK Chief Executive of JDRF Karen Addington said: Our recommendations point the way for an NHS that can build back an integrated type 1 diabetes service, that optimises quality of care and support, as well as positive outcomes for those living with the condition. People affected by type 1 diabetes hold expertise. Such expertise is valuable for clinical adaptation as we move beyond COVID-19.”

She added: “Despite the major disruption to type 1 diabetes healthcare, 58% of adults living with type 1 diabetes felt the NHS had done its best to support them during the pandemic. This reflects an admiration of NHS staff and their efforts throughout the pandemic that we at JDRF share.”

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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