Background: Successful management of diabetes requires attention to the behavioural, psychological and social aspects of this progressive condition. The Diabetes MILES (Management and Impact for Long-term Empowerment and Success) Study is an international collaborative. Diabetes MILES--Australia, the first Diabetes MILES initiative to be undertaken, was a national survey of adults living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in Australia. The aim of this study was to gather data that will provide insights into how Australians manage their diabetes, the support they receive and the impact of diabetes on their lives, as well as to use the data to validate new diabetes outcome measures.
Methods/design: The survey was designed to include a core set of self-report measures, as well as modules specific to diabetes type or management regimens. Other measures or items were included in only half of the surveys. Cognitive debriefing interviews with 20 participants ensured the survey content was relevant and easily understood. In July 2011, the survey was posted to 15,000 adults (aged 18-70 years) with type 1 or type 2 diabetes selected randomly from the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) database. An online version of the survey was advertised nationally. A total of 3,338 eligible Australians took part; most (70.4%) completed the postal survey. Respondents of both diabetes types and genders, and of all ages, were adequately represented in both the postal and online survey sub-samples. More people with type 2 diabetes than type 1 diabetes took part in Diabetes MILES--Australia (58.8% versus 41.2%). Most respondents spoke English as their main language, were married/in a de facto relationship, had at least a high school education, were occupied in paid work, had an annual household income > $AUS40,000, and lived in metropolitan areas.
Discussion: A potential limitation of the study is the under-representation of respondents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin). Diabetes MILES--Australia represents a major achievement in the study of diabetes in Australia, where for the first time, the focus is on psychosocial and behavioural aspects of this condition at a national level.