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Pharmacists could have key role in referring people with type 1 diabetes towards valuable online support tools

People with type 1 diabetes often develop a strong relationship with their local pharmacy. They are likely to meet with their pharmacist significantly more regularly during the year than their doctor or diabetes nurse because of the need to frequently collect repeat prescriptions. There is likely to be a strong degree of trust in the relationship, and more relaxed conversations can occur outside of the time and psychological pressures of clinic or surgery appointments. An award-winning website which showcases rated, reviewed and reliable online resources and peer-support networks offers a simple way for pharmacists to help people with type 1 diabetes access useful information, education and support.

Type 1 diabetes (T1DM) is a challenging long-term condition that requires careful self-management to reduce the risk of long-term complications. People living with type 1 diabetes frequently feel isolated in managing their condition, and spend less than two hours per year with a healthcare professional yet perform self-care activities for at least one hour every day[1]. The burden of this, and the possibility of long-term complications is often overwhelming and leads to higher prevalence of psychological issues, diabetes distress, and depression.

People are increasingly looking for healthcare information and support online, but can find it difficult to establish whether sources are trustworthy. t1resources.uk, which launched in September 2016, is the first of its kind to provide a curated library of resources created for and by people with type 1 diabetes. The website is co-curated, with equal healthcare professional and peer representation and input. It signposts its users to pre-existing digital material, having first ensured their safety and usefulness using a robust review process. It houses a comprehensive range of resources which vary from peer blog posts and social media channels, to pdf files of sick-day rules and video tutorials for diabetes technologies. Each resource is catalogued under easy-to-navigate categories, to make self-care as straightforward as possible. The site is designed to support both the newly diagnosed, and those who have been living with type 1 diabetes for many years. In its first year almost 12,000 users accessed the website, some of whom will have been introduced to online peer support for the very first time. On 12 October 2017, the team behind t1resources.uk was delighted to be awarded the prestigious Quality in Care, Diabetes award for ‘Empowering people with diabetes — adults’.

The judges commented: “The judges absolutely loved this project, it hits a sweet spot and they personally felt the impact and the effectiveness of this. It’s an adaptive resource here for when anyone is diagnosed. It addresses awkward conversations in an open, honest and comfortable manner. The team did astoundingly with this one.

Online peer support in T1DM has been shown to improve psychological outcomes; reducing feelings of isolation and improve self-care behaviour[2],[3]. A meta-analysis of randomised control trials of online social networking peer support in diabetes found an improvement in HbA1c of 0.5%, equivalent to that of insulin pump therapy. Alongside this, the information resources, how-to videos and technology reviews offer practical support and help for day-to-day management questions which have been checked and reviewed both by people living with T1DM and qualified healthcare professionals.

We believe pharmacists could play an important role in sharing this useful online resource with people living with T1DM, and in doing so could significantly support their self-management. Posters and business cards can be requested from the t1resources.uk website.

 

Mike Kendall

Co-creator t1resources.uk

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203833

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