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18th European Diabetes Congress

Lisbon, Portugal

Charlotte Clark

Charlotte Clark

Team Consulting Ltd, UK

Title: Technological vs. Emotional needs: what is it really like to have type 1 diabetes? Using design research to guide product innovation


Biography: Charlotte Clark


Diabetes management technology has advanced immensely in recent years, greatly improving the lives of people with type 1 diabetes (T1D). But has this been at the expense of the psychological impact of the disease? Is this expensive technology out of financial reach for many, and is it actually making them think more about their condition when all they want to do is forget about it? As medical device designers, we take a holistic view of the problems we are trying to solve. Not only do we seek to understand issues with current devices, but we also seek to really understand all the practical and emotional challenges of managing a life-long condition. A consideration of this bigger picture could lead to innovations which could make a real difference to people’s lives.  We approached 10 active T1D bloggers to take part in a small piece of online design research aimed at uncovering the practical and emotional challenges currently facing people with T1D. Each participant received a short questionnaire and a pack of sugar (a clay modeling material) and was asked to create a model that expressed what it felt like to have T1D. They were also asked to take photos of anything important to them when managing their condition. We did not ask specific questions about the devices they were using, but instead set out to discover more about what it is like living with T1D. This research identified a number of challenges around the 24/7 physical and emotional burden of the disease from the practicalities of managing large amounts of equipment; to the fear of night time hypos; managing diet and exercise; reimbursement; concerns around stigma and simply going out with friends. This talk will present insights into life with T1D and give examples of how these insights could lead to conceptual solutions.