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What is the Diabetes Prevention Programme and why is it important? by Carole Bennett (Lay member of the DIPLOMA Research Advisory Group)
Welcome to the first entry of this new Blog, on behalf of the DIPLOMA study. DIPLOMA is a large national evaluation of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. DIPLOMA is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and is based at the University of Manchester.
So, where do I start? Perhaps with introducing myself. I'm Carole Bennett, an ex-Primary School teacher, a single parent of a wonderful grown up son, am interested in art and writing, and I have now had to retire early on ill-health. I have several long-term health conditions, and this has led me to becoming interested in Patient and Public Involvement in health research.
I am also one of the many people who is at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, being an overweight older woman, with a large waist measurement (how glamorous!), who can't do much exercise because of mobility and fatigue problems due to multiple sclerosis, who has depression and also has a family history of diabetes. Yes, all of those things mean that I am more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
I know quite a lot about the condition, as several of my friends have Type 2 diabetes. I also have personal experience of diabetes because some close family members have it (although they have Type 1 rather than Type 2, which I know is quite different), including my amazing twin sister who very sadly died from a big hypo attack as her blood sugars weren't easily controlled.
So it seemed like fate when I was asked by researchers at the University of Manchester if I would like to become involved as one of the Lay members of a Research Advisory Group on the DIPLOMA study, alongside the researchers and clinicians, to look at a new scheme to help prevent Type 2 diabetes. We have already had a couple of meetings, and it is really great that the Research Team are involving 'experts by experience' like myself so early on in the study.
The DIPLOMA Team will be evaluating a new national programme called Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP). This is being introduced to help prevent Type 2 diabetes in people who are at risk of developing it.
The new programme is a national scheme and is being brought in by the NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK. Type 2 diabetes can often be controlled and even prevented in people who are at risk of developing it, if they make certain lifestyle changes such as with their diet and exercise. The NHS DPP aims to address this.
The people who are referred onto the NHS DPP will receive tailored, personalised support to try to reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This will include education on healthy eating and lifestyle, help to lose weight if required, and physical exercise programmes, all of which together have been proven to reduce the risk of developing the disease.
The NHS DPP funders need to know if the programme really works at preventing diabetes and whether it is a good use of scarce NHS resources. The DIPLOMA study based at the University of Manchester will be finding this out. They will be looking at the NHS DPP, analysing data from it, finding out how it is being run in different parts of England, talking with patients and healthcare professionals, seeing what is working well, if anything needs improving, if it works better than NHS care at the moment, if it is good use of NHS resources, if people on the course develop healthier lifestyles - and ultimately if it actually reduces the number of people who go on to develop Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can cause very serious health problems and can have a big impact on people’s quality of life. It also costs the NHS a lot of money. So, if the NHS DPP can help prevent people from developing the condition, it will have so many benefits.
In the next instalments of this Blog, we will explain more about the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, who is involved, how the DIPLOMA project will be finding out how successful the programme is, and how patient and public involvement will help to shape the project. We will also be talking to people with Type 2 diabetes or who are at risk of developing it, to find out what they think about the scheme, to people on the programme and to researchers involved in the DIPLOMA evaluation project.
If there is anything that you would like to know about the project, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author: Carole Bennett is a lay member of the DIPLOMA Research Advisory Group which is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care.