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A digital psychosocial wellbeing tool for young people with type 1

Dr Emma Berry is working with young people affected by type 1 to develop a digital psychosocial wellbeing screening and monitoring tool at Queen’s University Belfast. Once complete, Emma hopes diabetes clinicians will use her tool to support young people at their diabetes appointments.
Content last reviewed and updated: 17.08.2023

Dr Emma Berry

Why is this research needed?

Best practice guidelines recommend that psychosocial screening should be a routine part of diabetes healthcare. But we don’t have an effective way for HCPs to assess and monitor the wellbeing of people with type 1. The assessment tools currently used are often time-consuming, inaccurate, and unempowering, which has led to a gap in psychosocial support for young people with type 1. So, this research project is crucial to develop a more effective way to assess, monitor and support mental health in young people with type 1.

Developing a digital tool with young people

First, the Emma will work with a digital health company to deliver a series of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) workshops to create the digital psychosocial wellbeing tool. Young people living with type 1, their caregivers and diabetes clinicians will all be invited to the workshops. This group will help to shape the content features, information, and appearance of the tool, including the name and branding. Then, the company will develop prototypes of the tool and present it to the researchers and the people who attended the workshops. Using the collective feedback, the digital company will create the first version of the tool.

Testing the digital psychosocial wellbeing tool

Once the digital psychosocial wellbeing tool is complete, the researchers need to evaluate its usefulness and practicality as part of routine diabetes care. To do this, Emma will invite around 20 people with type 1 aged 13-18 years who attend a paediatric diabetes clinic in Northern Ireland to help her test the tool. She will encourage the young people (or their guardians) who agree to take part to complete the tool before their next standard diabetes clinic or annual review appointment.

The selections the young people make and the information they add to their digital tool profile will provide an overview of their psychosocial wellbeing at that point in time and enable them and their caregivers to track changes and progress. This overview of psychosocial wellbeing will be used to guide conversations during upcoming diabetes appointments, reflecting on any change and progress.

Analysing the effectiveness of the tool

Emma’s research team will collect and analyse data on how the young people and HCPs engaged with the digital tool. The researchers will also gather feedback on how easy, valuable and useful the young people with type 1 thought the tool was. Emma will use this information to help her develop a follow-up research project to continue evaluating the tool to optimise it for a paediatric diabetes service.

How will this project help people with type 1?

The aim of the project is to provide a more resourceful method of assessing and monitoring the psychosocial wellbeing of young people with type 1. If the digital psychosocial wellbeing tool proves useful and effective, it will enable young people to share their needs and voices and feel more empowered to shape appointments with their diabetes healthcare team. Improving communication between people with type 1 and their HCPs about psychosocial wellbeing is the first step to improving wellbeing through targeted support.

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