Sabina Wagner, MSc

University of Southern Denmark, Faculty of Health Sciences

Title of project

Stigmatisation of people with type 2 diabetes: relations to weight and strategies to overcome stigma and its negative impact on health within Danish healthcare settings


Background: Rising obesity and overweight rates coincide with increased stigmatisation, portraying individuals with these conditions as incompetent, lazy, and weak-willed. This weight stigma adversely affects physical and mental health. For example, the experience of weight stigmatisation has been shown to lead to subsequent weight gain. Many people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) also have overweight, yet little is known about their experiences with weight stigma. Additionally, T2D is also stigmatised, and multiple studies have shown a correlation between experienced diabetes stigma and high glycaemic levels. But the interplay between weight and diabetes stigma remains poorly understood. International studies highlight healthcare professionals (HCPs) as common sources of stigmatisation toward people with T2D and/or overweight, yet they can also potentially provide counselling, resilience-building and formal social support to help people with T2D cope with stigma from other sources (incl. self-stigma). Thus, healthcare settings are good places to intervene to reduce stigma and its negative impacts on health.

Aim: The overall goal of this PhD project is to explore the intersection between stigmas related to weight and T2D, and how the stigmas can be combated in Danish healthcare settings.

Methods: The project is inspired by design-based research, which uses participatory approaches to thoroughly understand a problem and generate innovative solutions that are implementable in real-life settings. The project is divided into three phases. The first phase is a nationwide survey among people with and without T2D, which examines how weight and diabetes stigma interact, and identifies groups who are more vulnerable to stigma. The second phase uses qualitative approaches to explore perspectives and practices of Danish HCPs to understand how they implicitly and explicitly express weight and diabetes stigma, and how they address stigma from other sources in their practice. The third phase consists of a series of design workshops, where people with T2D and HCPs are invited to co-design a healthcare-based stigma-reducing intervention, which is then prototyped, tested, and refined.

Results: The study will contribute to a better understanding of the multidimensional stigmatisation that people with T2D experience and are subject to within Danish healthcare settings. Additionally, at the end of the project, a healthcare-based stigma-reducing intervention will be ready for implementation and subsequent evaluations of effectiveness.

Sabina Wagner, MSc
Principal supervisor

Martin Marchman Andersen, University of Southern Denmark, National Institute of Public Health

Co-supervisor: Ingrid Willaing & Kasper Olesen, Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen

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