Having diabetes is hard, but so is being the partner of a diabetic
Having diabetes can be hard, but living happily with someone who has the disease can often be very difficult, too. Now, there is help on the way for Danish couples: Professor Jackie Sturt of King’s College London in the UK has been awarded a guest professorship at the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen so that she can disseminate her research results, and her approach to supporting couples and families, to researchers at the Center.
The DKK 300,000 grant for the project is from the Danish Diabetes Academy.
Couples research is a brand-new field, but it was given high priority when 18 diabetic members of the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen (SDCC)’s user panel discussed research priorities on the basis of their personal experience of living with diabetes.
The raft of problems affecting families is known to researchers as ‘diabetes distress’. It can affect the partner just as badly as the person with diabetes – and the partner/spouse can have just as many worries as the person with diabetes.
The researchers at the Steno Center have a lot of experience of research into relationships in families with type 2 diabetes and into diabetes distress in people with type 1 diabetes. Existing research has investigated the physical and mental health effects of diabetes distress on couples, but only a few interventions have been developed in this area.
‘Recent British and Italian studies have explored the challenges and needs facing couples where one partner has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Our wish is – with Jackie Sturt’s knowledge and support – to bring the new interventional ideas to Denmark and develop SDCC researchers’ expertise so as to launch new joint projects’, says Research Leader Ingrid Willaing Tapager of the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen.
She says that the newly developed interventions will enable the researchers to share new research findings with the other Danish Steno Centers and other relevant institutions and associations. ‘We will also develop plans to implement and test how these interventions affect health and wellbeing in the target group, and how they affect the quality of life of Danish couples living day to day with diabetes’, she adds.
International public health guidelines recognize that there are many health and wellbeing benefits to be had, for both partners, by focusing on living in a mutually supportive and resilient relationship.
For a period of 6 months, Jackie Sturt will spend 30% of her time working with SDCC researchers. This will mean spending 1 week in every 4 at the SDCC. During these week-long visits, the researchers will exchange knowledge and hold workshops with individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes in order to develop couple interventions, which are expected to result in better health and wellbeing for both partners in the relationship.
Professor Jackie Sturt
Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Nursing
King's College London, UK
+44 (0)20 7848 3108
Ingrid Willaing Tapager
Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen
+45 3091 3403