Help your clients overcome diabetes denial

Diabetes denial is common and people need help to overcome it.

One of the most frustrating things as a health care worker can be dealing with individuals in denial about their current health problem.

Denial affects self management

If it goes on, diabetes denial can significantly affect an individual’s ability to manage their condition.

Denial is actually a normal stage of coming to terms with a lifelong diagnosis such as diabetes. There are several things we can do as health workers to support people to work through denial and accept their condition.

Give clients time

Allow people time to process their diagnosis before providing more information and advice. It can be a shock for people to suddenly be told they have a lifelong condition that could have serious consequences if not managed well. Give people time and space and allow them to ask questions before you start giving your advice and opinion.

Banish blame and shame talk

Shame is a major contributor to diabetes denial. Avoiding blame talk is one important factor for minimising diabetes shame and denial. Help people to understand that diabetes is caused by several factors and that it is not their fault.

Avoid scare tactics

We have all heard a health care provider try to scare a patient into taking their advice. Usually this doesn’t work. Using scare tactics often drives people deeper into their denial and will possibly make them less likely to come back for a follow up appointment. Instead of scaring people try to empower them to take ownership of their health and accept that they now have the power to take control of their future.

Encourage and embrace small steps

Feeling overwhelmed by all the ‘changes’ needed to manage diabetes can cause people to retreat from care and slip into a state of denial. Celebrating small achievements helps people to build confidence and to continue taking action and making further changes.

Listen to clients’ feelings and concerns

It can help you find the answer to supporting them further. Try to avoid the impulse to correct people and tell them how to ‘fix’ their problems. Instead use motivational interviewing techniques such as asking open-ended questions and listening with empathy to help the client find their own answers.

Learning and practising motivational interviewing is a great skill for any healthcare provider. To learn more check out these free online videos.

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