Education guide aims to improve diabetes language

The guide has been developed with healthcare professionals and media personnel in mind

Max Ryan

March 30, 2024

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  • A new HSE guide developed in consultation with Diabetes Ireland aims to improve the language used when talking and writing about the condition.

    The Language Matters guide, which can be accessed and downloaded on diabetes.ie, aims to raise awareness of how improving communication with and about people with diabetes can make a difference in supporting those living with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

    Diabetes is a complex condition affecting around 300,000 people in Ireland. No one causes their diabetes, yet people living with it often encounter stigma, discrimination and stereotyping. There is plenty of evidence to suggest we can improve our messaging, body language and speech to be more supportive of those with diabetes.

    In early 2023, the Diabetes Language Matters Ireland working group came together to develop an Irish version of a diabetes language guide. This group consists of academics, healthcare professionals and people with lived experience of diabetes.

    The Diabetes Language Matters movement supports better communication around diabetes. The concept started in Australia in 2011, and many countries have followed suit with their own versions of guides and position statements. 

    Language around diabetes can affect the person’s emotional wellbeing. People with diabetes report feelings of guilt, frustration and anxiety around blood glucose levels and food choices, which may be triggered by the language they hear around self-management. 

    Negative language contributes to social stigma, which can include unhelpful comments and judgement, leading to diabetes distress, depression and lowered self-esteem.

    The guide has been developed to support people working in the media as well as the general public in Ireland.

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