Diabetes care provision: barriers, enablers and service needs of young adults with Type 1 diabetes from a region of social disadvantage

Diabet Med. 2013 Jul;30(7):878-84. doi: 10.1111/dme.12227. Epub 2013 May 30.


Aims: To determine the barriers to and enablers of engaging with specialist diabetes care and the service requirements of young adults with Type 1 diabetes mellitus from a low socio-economic, multicultural region.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey targeted 357 young adults with Type 1 diabetes, aged 18-30 years. Participants completed questions about barriers/enablers to accessing diabetes care and service preferences, self-reported HbA(1c), plus measures of diabetes-related distress (Problem Areas in Diabetes), depression/anxiety (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), and illness perceptions (Brief Illness Perceptions Questionnaire).

Results: Eighty-six (24%) responses were received [55 (64%) female; mean ± sd age 24 ± 4 years; diabetes duration 12 ± 7 years; HbA(1c) 68 ± 16 mmol/mol (8.4 ± 1.5%)]. Logistical barriers to attending diabetes care were reported; for example, time constraints (30%), transportation (26%) and cost (21%). However, 'a previous unsatisfactory diabetes health experience' was cited as a barrier by 27%. Enablers were largely matched to overcoming these barriers. Over 90% preferred a multidisciplinary team environment, close to home, with after-hours appointment times. Forty per cent reported severe diabetes-related distress, 19% reported moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms and 50% reported moderate-to-severe anxiety.

Conclusions: Among these young adults with Type 1 diabetes, glycaemic control was suboptimal and emotional distress common. They had identifiable logistical barriers to accessing and maintaining contact with diabetes care services, which can be addressed with flexible service provision. A substantial minority were discouraged by previous unsatisfactory experiences, suggesting health providers need to improve their interactions with young adults. This research will inform the design of life-stage-appropriate diabetes services targeting optimal engagement, access, attendance and ultimately improved healthcare outcomes in this vulnerable population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Health Services Accessibility* / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Transportation
  • Young Adult


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A