Study seeks to tackle widening health inequalities observed in children with type 1 diabetes

Study seeks to tackle widening health inequalities observed in children with type 1 diabetes

A new study is exploring the reasons why children and young people with type 1 diabetes from ethnic minority groups or living in low socioeconomic areas are less likely to use ‘life-changing’ diabetes technology.

In the Diabetes UK-funded project, researchers around England and Wales are reaching out to children and young people with type 1 diabetes and their parents/guardians to take part in short interviews.

Dr Natalie Darko, Director of Inclusion at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, and one of the investigators, said: “The incredible technological advances that have been made for people living with type 1 diabetes are life-changing for those who use them. And, although more people from every part of society now use insulin pumps instead of insulin injections, we have seen the gap between insulin pump use among children and young people living in the most deprived areas widen compared to the least deprived areas, every year for the last six years.”

Professor May Ng from Mersey and West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Through continuous glucose monitoring systems in paediatric diabetes units we have seen that children and young people from ethnic minority backgrounds across England and Wales are more likely to have higher average blood sugar levels than other people with type 1 diabetes.”

Dr Darko added: “We’re hoping to engage with young people with type 1 diabetes across England and Wales to understand their experiences so we can find ways to break down any barriers to using life-changing technology.

“Our goal is to develop inclusive, practical, and implementable solutions which can be rolled out across the NHS in the future.”

Dr Faye Riley, Research Communications Manager at Diabetes UK said: “We need to make sure every child has the tools and support they need to thrive and live well with type 1 diabetes, and it’s unacceptable that some groups are less likely to be using life-changing diabetes technology.

“By funding Professor Ng and team’s research we can better understand precisely how ethnicity and deprivation are common factors in inequalities in tech use and begin to identify ways to close the widening gap in access.”

An expert in digital technologies at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Dr Eda Tonga, is also supporting this work.

If you would like to find out more about the UNBIASED study, please email the research team on dd253@leicester.ac.uk

The Diabetes UK-funded study is being carried out in partnership between the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, Mersey and West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh, Diabetes Africa, JDRF and Egality.

The NIHR Leicester BRC is part of the NIHR and hosted by the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust in partnership with the University of Leicester, Loughborough University and the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group.

Author: Philip Lopez