Press release

One in Three People with Diabetes Do Not Receive Support Needed to Deal with Emotional Aspects of Living with Diabetes

June 12, 2020 | Chicago, Illinois

Denmark study of self-reported data from more than 9,000 people finds overall need for better access to psychological and other non-medical diabetes care for people living with diabetes and their caregivers 

Results presented today at the American Diabetes Association’s® (ADA’s) 80th Virtual Scientific Sessions show 18% of people living with diabetes in Denmark needed a referral for a psychologist but had not been offered one, and 36% said they did not receive the support they needed to cope with their emotions related to diabetes. The research was compiled through the study, “Psychological Impact and Need for Psychological Care and Support: What Do People with Diabetes and Caregivers Say? Results of a Scientific Survey of 9,869 People with Diabetes and Caregivers in Denmark.” The data comes from the largest nationwide Danish survey to characterize a major need for better access to psychological and other non-medical diabetes care.

The Danish Diabetes Association, Steno Diabetes Center North Denmark, Aalborg University Hospital, and Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark designed a national diabetes survey, “Life with Diabetes 2019,” to benchmark impact to daily life, access to care and access to technology and services in order to discover top desires and priorities. Researchers sent out email invitations to 38,820 members of the Danish Diabetes Association (a patient organization that offers support to people with diabetes). Responses to the survey represented all Danish regions, and the age and gender of respondents were similar to the characteristics of the national population. 

Responses from a total of 8,918 people with diabetes and 761 caregivers were analyzed.  Of the participants with diabetes, 71% had type 2 diabetes and 26% had type 1 diabetes.

The responses indicated:

  • Although most participants reported generally having access to quality medical diabetes care, approximately 20% of people with diabetes said they experienced a psychological negative impact due to their diabetes “most or all of the time.”
  • About 19% of people with diabetes reported feeling that “diabetes is taking up too much of their daily life,” and 18% of people felt they needed a referral for a psychologist yet had not been offered one.
  • Approximately 36% of people with diabetes and 21% of caregivers indicated they are not getting the “support they need to deal with diabetes-related emotions.”
  • 19% of respondents saw a need for a major system-wide improvement in support for dealing with the mental aspect of living with the condition.
  • Women made up 51% of total respondents and were twice as likely as men to feel they needed a psychologist (24% vs. 12%).

“We also found that people who are involuntarily unemployed, people using insulin for type 2 diabetes and people who have multiple health issues are at higher risks for negative psychological outcomes,” said lead author of the study Soren E. Skovlund, MsC, senior research scientist, Steno Diabetes Center North Denmark, Aalborg University Hospital and the Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg University

Additional analyses of more than 1,100 open text responses revealed that people with diabetes suffer psychosocial affects due to gaps in multiple aspects of care, including access to new technology, quality care in a primary practice setting and local support for overall well-being.

“Our study highlights that efforts to support vulnerable populations should be multi-pronged and include a psychologist’s care”, said Skovlund. “In Denmark, a national program for patient reported outcomes in diabetes is underway to incorporate psychological well-being and emotional aspects of living with diabetes in routine diabetes care visits, however presently there is no reimbursement for provision of psychological therapy for people with diabetes-related difficulties who may not have a psychiatric diagnosis. Even then, the availability of diabetes-trained mental health professionals remains scarce. The psychological impact of diabetes and the opportunities that exist to mitigate it, including optimal access to novel technologies, better individual medical care and person-centered self-management support services should not be under-estimated. Integration of psychosocial aspects of living with diabetes is a prerequisite for improving the long-term health and quality of life outcomes for many people with diabetes and their families.”

Research presentation details:

For more information, or the schedule an interview with Mr. Skovlund, please contact Daisy Diaz by phone at (703) 253-4807 or by email at

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About the ADA’s Scientific Sessions
The ADA’s 80th Scientific Sessions, the world’s largest scientific meeting focused on diabetes research, prevention and care, will be held virtually June 12-16, 2020. Leading physicians, scientists and health care professionals from around the world will unveil cutting-edge research, treatment recommendations and advances toward a cure for diabetes. Though the conference will be remote this year, attendees will receive exclusive access to nearly 2,000 original research presentations and take part in provocative and engaging exchanges with leading diabetes experts. Learn more and register at and join the Scientific Sessions conversation on social media using #ADA2020 and #ADAGoesVirtual.

About the American Diabetes Association
Every day more than 4,000 people are newly diagnosed with diabetes in America. More than 122 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes and are striving to manage their lives while living with the disease. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization fighting to bend the curve on the diabetes epidemic and help people living with diabetes thrive. For nearly 80 years the ADA has been driving discovery and research to treat, manage and prevent diabetes, while working relentlessly for a cure. We help people with diabetes thrive by fighting for their rights and developing programs, advocacy and education designed to improve their quality of life. Diabetes has brought us together. What we do next will make us Connected for Life. To learn more or to get involved, visit us at or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Join the fight with us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn).