Unique, practical knowledge for nurses responsible for daily management of patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and related conditions.

Learning to talk about diabetes

Learning to talk about diabetes

Publication date: Tuesday, 14 August 2018

New online research from Diabetes UK shows that one in three people would seek advice online first over talking to a GP about a health concern. The poll of more than 2000 UK adults, carried out by YouGov on behalf of Diabetes UK, also showed that less than a quarter of respondents said they would feel comfortable speaking to an employer about health concerns. While 75% said they would feel comfortable talking about a friend or loved one’s health condition, only 65% said they would feel comfortable talking about their own health.

In light of these findings, Diabetes UK has produced two lists of top tips to encourage people with diabetes and healthcare professionals to talk clearly and openly about the condition.

Tips for people with diabetes: 

  • Diabetes is complicated and different for everyone. There is no such thing as a silly question so ask whatever is on your mind.
  • It helps if you go to your appointment with some questions in mind. You could write them down or send them to your healthcare team beforehand. 
  • This time is for you, so let your healthcare team know what you would like to talk about from the start. 
  • Sometimes you will have more to talk about and you might need more time. If you can, book a double appointment so you do not have to rush. 

There might be things you feel uncomfortable talking about. But your healthcare team is there to help, so be honest and make the most of their medical expertise. 


An earlier survey of more than 8000 people living with or affected by diabetes carried out by Diabetes UK showed that greater support for emotional and psychological health; better access to healthcare professionals who understand diabetes; and more support and understanding at work and school were priorities for those affected by the condition. To support this, the charity has also developed tips to help healthcare professionals sensitively approach conversations with their patients living with diabetes.


Tips for healthcare professionals:

  • Some things are hard to talk about and that is fine. Just be frank and use clear, simple language. It will help both you and your patient feel more relaxed and comfortable.
  • Sometimes there is a lot to talk about in an appointment, and you might need more time. You could suggest booking a double appointment next time and highlight other ways to get in touch, such as email. Don’t forget about the Diabetes UK helpline that offers support as well.

Your patient is more than just a number. By understanding their day-to-day lives you can help them manage their diabetes better. A simple question about their favourite hobby or weekend plans can often build rapport and make a huge difference.


More information

Diabetes UK


Topics covered:

Category: Have You Heard
Edition: Volume 1, Number 1, BJPCN Online 2004

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