Aim: To explore the psychological impact of a stepwise population-screening project for Type 2 diabetes.
Methods: As part of a stepwise population screening project for Type 2 diabetes in the Hoorn region, The Netherlands, an explorative interview study was conducted. The psychological impact of screening was studied using semistructured interviews in 40 subjects: 20 who were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and 20 subjects who were at increased risk of having diabetes but who did not meet criteria for diabetes. Transcripts were analysed using techniques of content analysis.
Results: Newly diagnosed subjects reported limited understanding of their elevated blood glucose levels. None, with the exception of one, was alarmed by the diagnosis. Having Type 2 diabetes was not experienced as severe and no concerns were expressed. Adjusting diet was perceived as a major change by some. All newly diagnosed subjects had informed close relatives and friends of the diabetes, who were in general not alarmed by the news. Both groups positively judged the screening procedure. In general the screening procedure was considered as useful and not experienced as burdensome.
Conclusions: This explorative study suggests that the psychological impact of screening in newly diagnosed subjects is limited. Both those who were and those who were not diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes judged the screening procedure positively.