DAWN: Diabetes Attitudes Wishes and Needs

Kim Benjet Health Guide
  • Check out the DAWN Youth international survey. Novo Nordisk's DAWN study, in partnership with the International Diabetes Federation, aims to focus on the person with the diabetes -- putting the individual, not the diabetes, at the center of the research. DAWN (which stands for Diabetes Attitudes Wishes and Needs) will look at the psychosocial effects of diabetes and how this influences treatment outcomes. The official mission taken from the DAWN Web site is "to improve the health and quality of life of people with diabetes by facilitating concrete initiatives and best practice sharing worldwide to overcome the psychosocial barriers to effective self-management."

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    As a social worker, I was struck by the lack of attention to psychosocial issues when my son was diagnosed. The more I read and lived with the disease in our family, the more I realized that the medical approach seriously limits positive outcomes. Information from Web sites like Children with Diabetes and blogs by people like Dave Mendosa, Amy Tenderich, Ann Bartlett, and Ginger make the day-to-day living with diabetes more manageable. Good mental health, social support, and education are all critical to managing diabetes effectively. I'm not at all surprised that DAWN's first 2001 study found that despite medical advances more than half the people with diabetes were not healthy and reported a less-than-desirable quality of life.


    I applaud the study for focusing on the psychosocial. We all know exercise, a good diet and blood sugar testing have a positive impact on diabetes, but we don't always take the good advice. Understanding what stops us as individuals on a daily basis is an essential component to our health. All the advances, education and medical breakthroughs add up to nothing if we do not use them.


    For the next two years, DAWN Youth Survey will tap into the attitudes, wishes and needs of teens living with diabetes worldwide. It's easy to find out more about the nine-country youth web survey -- I completed a survey and encourage other parents of children with diabetes and teens with diabetes to do the same.


    U.S. efforts funded by DAWN include a community coaching initiative where trained community people are matched with a patient to help support patient participation in the doctor's office. The University of California at Irvine is running this study, and the ultimate goal is to roll out the "coaching" model in underserved areas worldwide.Interesting research at the university revealed that different ethnic groups approached the disease differently so a culturally sensitive coach or a coach from that same community could be a vital assistant in bridging the gap between the medical professionals and the patient.


    Other efforts include training for health care providers worldwide about culturally specific and psychosocial issues in medical care. For example, 7 million Egyptian people living with diabetes live in a culture with a negative outlook of the disease. 


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    Other worldwide DAWN initiatives are summarized here. Check it out and take the survey!

Published On: July 12, 2007