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Health, Sports & Psychology

International study of diabetes and depression

Updated Monday 10th November 2014

Both diabetes and depression are highly prevalence in today’s society, the OU’s Professor Cathy Lloyd is leading new longitudinal research into the link between these two long-term conditions, aiming to identify optimal pathways for future care.

A statue of wood - depressed man or depression symbol Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Aprescindere | Dreamstime.com The prevalence of diabetes is increasing rapidly in every country across the globe, with projected estimates of at least 592 million people having the disease by 2035.

Here at the Open University, Professor Cathy Lloyd, from the Faculty of Health and Social Care, is leading an exciting new international study of diabetes and depression, INTERPRET-DD (the International Prevalence and Treatment of Diabetes and Depression).

The disease is a leading cause of death and accounts for up to 15% of health care budgets, with 2-3 times more health resources required for each individual with this long-term condition. This picture is an alarming one, given the known association between (increasing rates of) obesity and physical inactivity.

Professor Lloyd’s study is taking place in 16 countries across 4 continents and is investigating how many individuals with type 2 diabetes have unrecognised depression and, on diagnosis, the pathways to care for those with both these long-term conditions.

Each country involved in the study is recruiting 200 adults with type 2 diabetes, conducting psychiatric interviews and asking participants to fill out a series of questionnaires. These individuals will then be followed up for a year and re-interviewed in order to examine what happened in terms of treatment and care over the course of the study. Other factors such as life stress, the development of other health conditions and changes in lifestyle will also be measured.

Having diabetes is associated with poorer mental and emotional health, for example people are at least twice as likely to have depression. However depression is unlikely to be diagnosed in the majority of people with diabetes, which has a serious impact on self-management of diabetes and leads to poorer health outcomes, due to the prioritising of the physical symptoms of diabetes and lack of confidence in reporting or spotting the symptoms of poor mental health. With the exception of the United States, there is little information on how people with both diabetes and depression are treated and cared for within the health service, both in the UK as well as in other countries.

Professor Lloyd and her colleagues around the globe hope their work will unearth the bottlenecks in the care process in the context of the different health care systems, identify examples of good clinical practice and provide recommendations for the future care of people with diabetes and poor mental health.

Interested in health & social care? Try a short course

We have a low cost 55-hour flexible online course Improving Diabetes Management. This allows you to learn about diabetes and diabetes care just for interest or maybe enables you to try out a new area of study before you commit yourself to an accredited qualification path. Our non-accredited, low cost Improving Diabetes Management course features:

  • A structured programme of study that includes interactive activities and video material.
  • Regular computer marked tests and self reviews to test your understanding.
  • A statement of participation from the OU which you can use to demonstrate your engagement with the course.
  • Complete flexibility around when you choose to study, as once you are registered you have a minimum of six months in which to work your way through the 55 hours of study. Just log in and start learning whenever it suits you!

Click here to find out more. 

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