RESEARCH: A new service has been started by nurses in the West Midlands for diabetes patients with mental health problems associated with their condition.

Warwick Medical School has developed a “diabetes listener” service for patients experiencing “diabetes-specific distress”. The problem is associated with poor glycaemic control whereas co-morbid depression is not.

The service involved a nurse with additional diabetes and mental health training offering patients up to six 45 minute appointments.

“The diabetes listener uses person centred counselling techniques and approaches to understand motivational barriers and opportunities, develop awareness of negative self-talk patterns, support self-efficacy and take a problem solving and goal oriented approach to developing new behaviours,” the authors said.

Over an 18 month period between April 2010 and September last year, 75 patients were referred to the service after being identified as “struggling with their diabetes” during routine clinical appointments.

Early findings from the new service were presented last Monday at the Royal College of Nursing’s international research conference in London.

The authors said: “Initial case note analysis indicates social isolation/aloneness to be a major factor affecting the psychological wellbeing of referred patients. Within this, diabetes isolation plays its part.

“Problematic relationships with people, and with food, are strong themes.”