Work from GM CLAHRC set to receive international exposure

Neesha Patel2

Researcher, Dr Neesha Patel from the Greater Manchester Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care has been given an exciting opportunity to present her research into the management of diabetes for Muslims fasting during Ramadan, at this year’s International Diabetes Federation, World Diabetes Congress.

Dr Patel, who recently completed her PhD at the University of Manchester, Centre for Primary Care Research, will be jetting off to Melbourne, Australia this December to present findings from her unique study, entitled, ‘I have diabetes and I fast during Ramadan’. Beliefs and the experiences of fasting in Muslim people with diabetes: a qualitative study.

The World Diabetes Congress (WDC) is one of the world’s largest health related events focused on diabetes research. The mission of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is to promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide. The WDC will welcome delegates from around the world and will include a range of healthcare professionals, researchers, bioscientists, psychologists, and academics from multiple disciplines..

Dr Patel said: “I am extremely thankful for this opportunity and to the IDF for awarding me a full travel grant to attend and present at the conference. To my knowledge, this is the first study in the UK to explore this topic, and this will be a great opportunity for me to showcase my research and generate some interest in the issues around fasting and diabetes management. I would also like to thank my PhD supervisors, Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham, Dr Anne Kennedy, Dr David Reeves and Dr Christian Blickem, for their input with the study abstract”.

During her research, which formed part of the CLAHRC’s People with Long term Conditions (Patients) Research Theme, one aspect of Dr Patel’s PhD research involved conducting semi-structured interviews with a sample of 23 Muslim people with diabetes in Greater Manchester to explore their beliefs and experiences of managing diabetes during Ramadan, and the role played by their General Practitioners and Practice Nurses in supporting them.

Fasting during auspicious occasions is a common practice for many people in the South Asian culture. Fasting during Ramadan means people need to abstain from food and drink from dawn to sunset, and patients with diabetes who fast face the risk of hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia and dehydration. Whilst Muslims with diabetes may be exempt from fasting during Ramadan, a high proportion of them continue to choose to do so.

Dr Patel said: “During my research I was fascinated by the number of Muslim people with diabetes who participated in fasting by refraining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Many of them also altered their diabetes medication, independent from medical advice during the month of Ramadan.

“Participants were reluctant to disclose fasting to their GP and Practice Nurse due to fears of being advised not to fast and because they felt healthcare professionals have little understanding of the importance of fasting during Ramadan.

“My research has definitely given me an insight into understanding how patients with diabetes deal with fasting commitments”.

In June 2012, Dr Patel was awarded a CLAHRC Research and Capability Funding to extend this work and prepare a bid application to NIHR, Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) for submission in May 2013. The aim of the RfPB is to develop and evaluate culturally sensitive health resources to support diabetes management and safe fasting practices during Ramadan in primary care, across Greater Manchester. The RfPB application has passed scrutiny and is currently under review with NIHR.