Research aims to help patients with Type 1 diabetes to exercise safely

People with Type 1 diabetes in the East Midlands are invited to test and develop an education programme on diet and exercise safety, which can be key to managing their blood glucose levels.

Research has shown that 96% of people with type 1 diabetes say education about diet and exercise safety is important – but just 20% feel they have received this information, and some healthcare professionals even admit to feeling unsure how to advise people.

To tackle this, Professor Rob Andrews, a researcher at the University of Exeter Medical School, is working with experts from Musgrove Park hospital in Taunton, the University of Birmingham and the University of Leicester. They have developed an education programme – and they need volunteers to help test it.

The researchers want to recruit 96 people with type 1 diabetes for a randomised controlled trial – half to test the new programme, and half who will get an update on carbohydrate counting (DAFNE – or equivalent Carb-counting course).

Participants must be aged 18-70, have knowledge about carbohydrate counting and have attended a DAFNE course (or equivalent carb-counting course).They must also be doing more than 30 minutes of exercise twice a week, or have signed up to do a sporting event (eg run or cycle) in the next six months.

The study team are working in conjunction with Leicester Clinical Trials Unit (LCTU), which is a fully registered UKCRC trials unit working with investigators and clinicians to design and deliver high quality clinical research. Leicester Diabetes Centre has also been involved, establishing and leading a curriculum development group with representation from the investigators, people with T1DM, expert colleagues with experience in developing self-management interventions, including DAFNE and DESMOND, and colleagues with expertise in diabetes and exercise.

The study team also drew on the expertise of Dr Yvonne Doherty, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist in diabetes, also based at LDC. She said: “There are so many barriers for all of us to take part in physical activity, but of course when you have type 1 diabetes, there is also the additional work around ensuring the balance of activity, food and insulin.

“This study is ground breaking as it really is about helping people to do this in a systematic way. The groups are about helping people to understand the mechanics,  but also for people with Type 1 to share their learning and experiences with each other”.