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With many having to take daily injections, count their carbs and constantly monitor their insulin dose, life for people with diabetes is challenging enough, without having to deal with the negative effects of stigma.
However, two Deakin researchers have found that people with diabetes do encounter significant discrimination and have embarked on a mission to tackle this stigma through crowd funding.
Research Fellow Jessica Browne and Associate Research Fellow Ms Adriana Ventura are hoping that the latest Deakin Pozible crowd funding campaign will fund a national survey about diabetes stigma. The researchers work at The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, a partnership between Diabetes Australia – Vic and Deakin.
“Our initial investigations show that people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes feel stigmatised, judged and monitored, as a result of their condition,” Dr Browne said.
“Most people don’t understand that the causes of diabetes are varied and complex. Lifestyle factors do contribute to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but genetic and environmental factors may also play a causal role. Type 1 diabetes is entirely unpreventable. Regardless of the cause, people with all types of diabetes deserve full community support.”
Just a small contribution from concerned individuals will help to get this project off the ground!
“Through this project, we are hoping to take a national snapshot of the problem, through surveying up to 8000 adults with diabetes across Australia, so that we can understand the real extent of the issue,” Dr Browne said.
She added that the survey will lead to greater understanding of the relationship between stigma and other areas of the lives of diabetics, such as mental health and self-management.
“If we can understand the causes and consequences of stigma better, then we can address issues such as policy and education that can help to alleviate it.”
The survey is one of five Deakin projects currently seeking funding on Pozible, through the “Research My World” program that was initiated last year and saw six projects successfully funded.
The two researchers are seeking a minimum of $5000 to assist with their research. Their deadline has been set for June 10, and, so far, they have been promised over $1000. If they don’t make the target, the project will not be able to go ahead.
Dr Browne said that, on the whole, people with diabetes don’t take extra sick days or under-perform in the workplace.
“They are as effective as everyone else, but there is a risk that stigma could affect self-care, such as skipping or delaying required activities, like injecting insulin in public places, to avoid negative attention, and there is a higher risk for depression among this group.”
As the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia, diabetes is a significant problem. More than one million Australians are currently living with the disease, and it is believed that almost as many again have the condition, but are undiagnosed.
The two researchers are very optimistic about the use of crowd funding.
“It seemed the perfect tool for us. We believe that, whether people have a personal experience of diabetes, or just a strong sense of equality and fairness, most Australians want to live in a world where people are not subjected to discrimination,” said Dr Browne.
“We will not just be raising funds for our research, but also helping to educate the community about the issue.”