These findings are highlighted in an International Consensus, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, by a collaboration of 51 experts from 18 countries across the world including IHT’s Professor Jane Speight and Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott.
They have achieved international consensus, not only on the evidence that diabetes stigma and discrimination exist and have harmful impacts, but also on recommendations and a Pledge to bring an end to diabetes stigma and discrimination.
This Australian-led effort has received global support, with the Pledge being endorsed by nearly 300 organisations in more than 100 countries to date, including Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin on behalf of Deakin University.
The aim of the International Consensus and Pledge is to galvanise global leadership, commitment, and actions to end the negative stereotypes and prejudice that exist in discourse and decision making about diabetes.
Professor Jane Speight, co-lead of the International Consensus is the founding Director of the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes (ACBRD), a partnership between Diabetes Victoria and Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation (IHT).
Professor Speight says diabetes stigma is driven primarily by blame, perceptions of burden or sickness, the visibility or lack of visibility of the condition, and feelings of fear or disgust.
“Diabetes stigma can have a negative impact on a person’s health and well-being,” Professor Speight says.
“It can lead to depression, anxiety, and emotional distress. It can lead them to conceal their condition in public, which can affect how well they manage it. It can also have impacts on their personal, family, social and professional lives.
“Stigma can also have a negative impact on public and government support and funding for diabetes research, prevention, care, and treatments.
“In 2010, the International Diabetes Federation initiated a call to action to stop discrimination against people with diabetes. Since then, greater research and advocacy has led to an increased understanding of diabetes stigma, and its occurrence. Still, the problem of diabetes stigma and discrimination and its harmful impacts persist.”
The panel of 51 experts includes people with lived experience of diabetes, as well as those with clinical and/or research experience in diabetes stigma. They unanimously endorsed the Pledge.
The consensus is an opportunity to truly support all people living with diabetes – more than 537 million people worldwide, including close to 1.5 million in Australia.
Every Australian likely knows someone with diabetes, and most have family members, friends or colleagues living with the condition.
“We invite every individual and every organisation across the world to take the Pledge and play their part in the change needed to end diabetes stigma and discrimination,” Professor Speight says.
“The consensus calls on the public to challenge stigmatising language and jokes about diabetes, to condemn discrimination, and support the research, initiatives, and policies that will help eliminate diabetes stigma in Australia and worldwide.”
To endorse the Pledge and join the global movement to improve the lives of people with diabetes, or to learn more about the expert panel members who authored it, visit EndDiabetesStigma.org.
The consensus is now available via The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, the world-leading journal in diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolism.