Hundreds take part in study to support people with diabetes during COVID-19

  • 17 September 2020

More than 800 people have now taken part in our UK-wide online survey to identify how to best support people with diabetes during the pandemic – thank you.

People with diabetes are at an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus. The study, led by the University of Bristol and supported by Diabetes UK, is funded by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute and is being carried out in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of diabetes education, routine check-up appointments, and peer-support groups due to the government’s distancing measures. The project will assist Diabetes UK in making decisions on the type of support people with diabetes currently need and how it should be provided.

The project also aims to digitalise originally face-to-face peer support groups for people with diabetes, not currently possible due to social and physical distancing measures. This will enable the continuity of mutual support networks.

The research team is helping three Bristol-based diabetes peer support groups digitalise their meetings via their computers or mobile phones. If found to be beneficial for wellbeing and diabetes management, the framework will be distributed to the over 300 diabetes groups around the country.

Dr Sarah Sauchelli Toran, Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol and the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre, said:

“For most people living with diabetes coronavirus is a mild illness but during the pandemic we have learnt that some may be more vulnerable to developing the severe form of the illness if they do get COVID-19.

“Diabetes-related concerns has led to weekly calls to the Diabetes UK helpline doubling during lockdown. Through our research we aim to help Diabetes UK identify and address the needs of people with diabetes during the government’s response to the pandemic.”

Project aims

  • to identify the key concerns of people with diabetes regarding diabetes self-management during the coronavirus pandemic and to assist Diabetes UK to make decisions on the type of support people with diabetes currently need and how it should be provided
  • to assess the feasibility of providing the Diabetes UK peer support group meetings via a digital platform
  • in the long run, a digital platform for peer support could be used for people with diabetes who have limited access to the traditional form of peer support group meetings, such as people with mobility issues and people with caring responsibilities


The survey has now closed. We received more than 800 anonymous responses from adults who have a diagnosis of diabetes, along with parents, carers and partners of people with diabetes.

Participation in the study was voluntary and participants had the right to withdraw at any point.

People were asked to complete a survey with questions about their wellbeing, the sources used to obtain information/advice/support, opinions on the advice people with diabetes are receiving, and any improvements people would like to see in relation to guidance/advice.

Survey responses will now be grouped according to diabetes type. This will enable Diabetes UK to provide support that is tailored to the specific needs of people with different types of diabetes.