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Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2015 Feb;107(2):306-7. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2014.12.002. Epub 2014 Dec 16.

Type 1 diabetes stigma in China: a call to end the devaluation of individuals living with a manageable chronic disease.

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Department of Nutrition, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Peking University People's Hospital, Beijing, China.
Department of Nutrition, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


Stigma is a significant barrier to improving care for individuals with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). This commentary describes this phenomenon in China, where stigma has led to labeling and devaluing of individuals with T1DM. Difficulties finding a spouse and regulations restricting admission to universities and government employment have forced many individuals to hide their diabetes. The shame, fear, and guilt stemming from stigma may preclude the use of insulin pumps; multiple daily injections, which require pre-meal insulin dosing at school or the workplace; participation in research studies; and general health-seeking behaviors. A multifaceted, multilevel approach is urgently needed and should involve improving public awareness and understanding of T1DM; adoption by health care providers of holistic rather than biomedical approaches to disease management; patient counseling on positive coping skills; and expansion of the scope of research to consider the psychosocial realities of diabetes care in China. Recent media attention in the form of a nationally broadcasted documentary on T1DM is an important step in the right direction. We believe that coordinated action by multiple stakeholders can lead to meaningful improvements in treatment, ultimately leading to better physical and emotional health outcomes for individuals living with this manageable chronic disease.


China; Discrimination; Stigma; Type 1 diabetes mellitus

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