By Rosie Walker, Successful Diabetes and Anne Cooper, living with Type 1 diabetes since being diagnosed, aged 16, in 1979
We have both attended diabetes professional conferences and reflected on the language used about diabetes, for example, self-care is often labelled with words like ‘compliance’, patients are ‘suffering from diabetes’ and ‘poor’ is contrasted with ‘good’ control. These words carry a degree of stigma, or at the very least affect how people interacted with those of us who have diabetes. Rosie has also recently posted on her blog (see previous post below) including similar examples and more, showing that language really does make a difference
As mentioned previously, in other countries, most notably Australia, there has been a push to change the way language is used and Diabetes Australia have led the way in trying to eradicate words that are unhelpful when supporting people to live with diabetes and suggesting others. Their position statement ‘A new language for diabetes’ was drawn up by an eminent working group including clinicians, psychologists and of course, people living with diabetes. It is the basis for many events and presentations which quite literally ‘spread the word’ about language awareness and use in diabetes care. One such presentation was recently at the American Diabetes Association 2017 meeting in San Diego, where it was proposed that the USA might develop its own statement
Inspired by attending that workshop and/or hearing about it through Australian diabetes advocate and blogger, Renza Scibilia, ourselves and Dr Partha Kar, Associate National Clinical Director for Diabetes in England, have decided to do something about this in the UK; working with people with diabetes, and also professionals and voluntary sector organisations, to create a UK statement that raises awareness of and promotes the best use of language in relation to diabetes and people living with it
To start us off, we would like to hear your views
What words or phrases do you think should be discouraged from use in referring to people living with diabetes, the management of their condition and/or diabetes care generally? Perhaps you could give us a list of your ‘top 5’ recommendations with alternatives?
To help you get started here is the Australian position statement
Please post your comments in the comments box below or tweet your reply to @successdiabetes or @anniecoops using #Diabeteswords, by the end of July 2017. You can also email your thoughts privately to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also comment on other people’s ideas if you wish (politely of course!)
We will be putting all the ideas together and will take all comments into account when drafting the statement
Please contribute and also share this invitation as widely as you can – we would like to get the views of as many people as possible!
Anne Cooper @anniecoops and Rosie Walker @successdiabetes