People with diabetes struggle with social and psychological stigma


People with diabetes say the condition makes them feel anxious, embarrassed and also renders them vulnerable to discrimination in the workplace.

A national survey of more than 500 Australians with diabetes found that almost one in three had feelings of embarrassment and guilt, often because they were made to believe they were partly responsible for their illness.

The survey, commissioned by Amcal chemists, also showed

  • 66% worried about complications
  • 60% stressed about eating the right foods
  • 57% were anxious about diabetes management
  • 52% felt overwhelmed by lifestyle changes
  • 42% were confused by information
  • 28% felt judged by loved ones

Significantly, almost half (45%) said they felt depressed and 32% said they felt lonely or isolated because of their diabetes

One in three people with diabetes said the feelings of guilt made them reluctant to admit they were struggling to manage the condition to family and friends. And fewer than one in ten said they had sought support from a psychologist or counsellor.

Other factors contributing to stress included feeling constantly watched by family over their diabetes management (29%) and the financial stress associated with medical appointments and medication costs (34%).

Diabetes also had a social impact, with more than a quarter of people saying they could not let their hair down when going out with friends, and 15% saying they avoided going out for meals because of their dietary restrictions.

One in three people said they had experienced some form of discrimination at work because of their diabetes, such as missing out on job opportunities or promotion, being told they could not take breaks, or being told they required supervision.

In the online survey, 76% of the respondents said they had type 2 diabetes and 32% were over the age of 65.

When asked what would most help them manage their diabetes, more than half said better access to support services from healthcare professionals,  and 34% said more affordable medications.

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