Aiming to develop tailor-made programme for 18 to 45-year-olds with diabetes | Danish Diabetes and Endocrine Academy
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Aiming to develop tailor-made programme for 18 to 45-year-olds with diabetes

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New PhD project will find out how the 24,000 diabetes patients in the age group are doing - and what they need. Not much is known about this today.

Although around 24,000 people aged between 18 and 45 are living with diabetes, we do not know a great deal about the type and number of the complications the disease causes them. Nor do we know whether the group has special characteristics, resources and needs.

Research assistant Kristine Stoltenberg Addington MSc (Public Health) now wants to change that. At the same time, she wants to develop a tailor-made programme of measures to improve the group’s quality of life and prevent aggravation of the disease.

She will do this in the PhD study for which she has just received support from the Danish Diabetes Academy. Action is badly needed: more and more people are developing chronic complications such as kidney disease, neurological disease, eye disease and cardiovascular disease.

‘What’s more, no progress has been made to date on preventing complications in this group. People aged 18-45 are an important population group, because they are busy with lots of tasks, both in the family and on the work front. So there is a need to ensure that this group has good wellbeing and good health’, says Kristine Stoltenberg Addington.

She is currently a research assistant at the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, and her PhD years will be spent in a collaboration between the health promotion research and clinical research unit at the Steno Center and the Section for Health Services Research at the Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, where her principal supervisor works.

The idea for the project came from a dialogue meeting on research strategy held in 2019 between the user group at the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen and the Diabetes Management Research Group. At the meeting, the user group emphasized the lack of knowledge about and support options for people who get complications arising from their diabetes at an early age.

Step 1: identifying complications

The project consists of three parts. The first consists of a registry study to identify diabetes complications among 18-45-year-olds together with the socio-economic characteristics of the group. On the basis of these results, Kristine Stoltenberg Addington will interview people with diabetic complications to find out what resources and what support and/or treatment needs they have. In part 3, the target group and other relevant stakeholders will be invited to co-develop a programme to be pilot-tested later.

The earlier you get diabetes, the greater the risk of complications

Several research results emphasize the need for the work that the DDA grant can now set in motion: the younger you are when you get diabetes, the greater your risk of developing complications. A Danish study showed that one in four young adults with type 1 diabetes had developed at least one complication before they turned 35, and another study found serious complications (retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy) in three out of four people in their early 20s with type 1 diabetes within eight years of disease. A greater risk of complications is also observed among young adults with type 2 diabetes, according to research.

‘Previous studies have also found that young adults with type 2 diabetes face more psychosocial challenges and have different treatment needs than older patients’, says Kristine Stoltenberg Addington.
As part of her PhD research, she will spend time at Leicester General Hospital in the UK with Professor Melanie J. Davies, one of the world’s foremost authorities on clinical research into diabetic complications.


Name and title: Research Assistant Kristine Stoltenberg Addington MSc (Public Health), b. 1990 Awarded DKK 1.1 million by the Danish Diabetes Academy.

Project title: Younger adults living with diabetes complications: A mixed-methods study investigating the burden of complications and developing a co-created support intervention

Research centres: Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen & Section for Health Services Research, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen

Principal supervisor: Associate Professor Maria Kristiansen, research group leader

Co-supervisors: Nana Folmann Hempler, senior researcher and team leader; Gregers Stig Andersen, senior researcher and team leader; Marie Frimodt-Møller, senior researcher and team leader


Tel: +45 4140 1520



Danish Diabetes Academy

Tore Christiansen, Managing Director


Tel: +45 2964 6764