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Research reaching out to young people with diabetes

Professor Lin Perry. Picture by Chris BennettProfessor Lin Perry. Picture by Chris Bennett

In summary:

  • The Youth OutReach for Diabetes (YOuR-Diabetes) project will address a gap in current diabetes programs by providing support to young people as they make the transition to adult health services
  • The project has been backed with $735,989 in funding over four years from the National Health and Medical Research Council

Developing and testing a new model of diabetes services is the primary focus of a new collaborative National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) research project led by the UTS Clinical Professor Lin Perry.

Partnering with the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Local Health Network and the Australian Diabetes Council, the Youth OutReach for Diabetes (YOuR-Diabetes) project has received $735,989 of funding over four years.

Young people with diabetes are expected to learn to self-manage in their teens, before transferring from children's to adult health services. Few adult services specifically cater for young people, and orientation towards the needs of their predominantly older patients means that many young people fail to establish good relationships to support routine management of their diabetes.

"This collaborative research is about working with clinical staff to reconfigure services with the aims of engaging young people, so they are more satisfied with their routine services, and increasing their use of them in line with best practice," Professor Perry said. "This should result in improved diabetes control in the Hunter New England area. This hasn't been tested before, so this is ground-breaking research.

Lin Perry, centre, with colleaguesLin Perry, centre, with colleagues

"The project will develop, implement and evaluate a 'systems navigation' model of transitional care for non-metropolitan young adults with type 1 diabetes.

"Currently, as young people move from children's to adult services, their contact with health care teams falls. They are expected to take more control of their diabetes, but receive less support.

"We want to improve the contact of young people with diabetes routine and preventive services, and their self-management knowledge and skills. This should improve indices of diabetes control such as Haemoglobin A1C levels and reduce their use of acute services for crisis management."

The program is a randomised controlled trial covering eight service clusters of the Hunter New England Local Health Network. The trial will look at the systems navigation model compared to current service models, assessing patient-level outcomes. A separate component is being run in collaboration with the Diabetes Centre at Prince of Wales Hospital and Sydney Children's Hospital.

Research findings will determine whether there is statistically significant difference between intervention and control group outcomes in relation to service effectiveness, which will inform future service redesign.

The project is due to be completed by the end of 2015.

Lisa Aloisio

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