Posted Jan 16 , 2018 02:12 AM

The Use of Language in Diabetes Care and Education

Dickinson J, et al Diabetes Care 2017_online October 17

What were the findings (excerpted from the Abstract)?

Language is powerful and can have a strong impact on perceptions as well as behavior. A task force, consisting of representatives from the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), convened to discuss language in diabetes care and education. This document represents the expert opinion of the task force. The literature supports the need for a language movement in diabetes care and education. There are effective ways of communicating about diabetes. This article provides recommendations for language used by healthcare professionals and others when discussing diabetes through spoken or written words whether directed to people with diabetes, colleagues, or the general public, as well as research questions related to language and diabetes.

Why is this important?

People experience both diabetes and the language of diabetes in context. Words are immediately shaped into meanings when people hear or read them, and those meanings can affect how a person views him or herself and have an impact on motivation, behaviors, and eventually on outcomes. The working group mentioned above has developed recommendations regarding language to enhance communications with people who have diabetes. For decades, a substantial amount of the language around diabetes has been focused on negative outcomes and laden with judgment and blame, and it has not adequately considered individual needs, beliefs, and choices. It has also been laden with a kind of depersonalization such that a person with diabetes is only a ‘diabetic’ as if that single term provides all the information you need to deliver the appropriate care. As peoples’ identities become confused with health conditions, they are often referred to by that condition. Many of us have heard of the “heart failure in room 303” or similar. The four principles of language use in diabetes are:

  • Diabetes is a complex and challenging disease involving many factors and variables
  • Stigma that has historically been attached to a diagnosis of diabetes can contribute to stress and feelings of shame and judgment
  • Every member of the health care team can serve people with diabetes more effectively through a respectful, inclusive, and person-centered approach
  • Person-first, strengths-based, empowering language can improve communication and enhance the motivation, health, and well-being of people with diabetes

These principles are important for anyone involved in taking care of people with diabetes, and our communications should always follow these guidelines’

Read the Article: