Barriers and enablers to diabetic eye screening attendance: An interview study with young adults with type 1 diabetes

Diabet Med. 2022 Mar;39(3):e14751. doi: 10.1111/dme.14751. Epub 2021 Dec 29.


Aim: The aim of this study was to identify barriers and enablers of diabetic eye screening (DES) attendance amongst young adults with diabetes living in the United Kingdom.

Methods: Semistructured qualitative interviews with adults aged 18-34 years with diabetes. Participants were purposively sampled to aim for representation across gender, geographical locations, diabetes type, years since diabetes diagnosis and patterns of attendance (i.e. regular attenders, occasional non-attenders, regular non-attenders). Data were collected and analysed using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) to explore potential individual, sociocultural and environmental influences on attendance. Data were analysed using a combined deductive and inductive thematic analysis approach. Barriers/enablers were mapped to behaviour change techniques (BCTs) to identify potential strategies to increase attendance.

Results: Key barriers to attendance reported by the sample of 29 study participants with type 1 diabetes, fell within the TDF domains: [Knowledge] (e.g. not understanding reasons for attending DES or treatments available if diabetic retinopathy is detected), [Social Influences] (e.g. lack of support following DES results), [Social role and Identity] (e.g. not knowing other people their age with diabetes, feeling 'isolated' and being reluctant to disclose their diabetes) and [Environmental Context and Resources] (e.g. lack of appointment flexibility and options for rescheduling). Enablers included: [Social Influences] (e.g. support of family/diabetes team), [Goals] (e.g. DES regarded as 'high priority'). Many of the reported barriers/enablers were consistent across groups. Potential BCTs to support attendance include Instructions on how to perform the behaviour; Information about health consequences; Social support (practical) and Social comparison.

Conclusions: Attendance to diabetic eye screening in young adults is influenced by a complex set of interacting factors. Identification of potentially modifiable target behaviours provides a basis for designing more effective, tailored interventions to help young adults regularly attend eye screening and prevent avoidable vision loss.

Keywords: barriers and enablers; behaviour change; diabetic eye screening; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Qualitative Research
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult