The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, Diabetes Australia - Vic, Melbourne, Australia; Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing Research, School of Psychology, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia; AHP Research, Hornchurch, Uxbridge, UK.
Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia, affecting 1.7 million Australians, requiring daily self-care, and known to reduce quantity and quality of life. On average, people with diabetes experience greater emotional distress than those without diabetes. One source of distress can be the language used to refer to diabetes, its management and the person with diabetes. The way verbal and written language is used reflects and shapes people's thoughts, beliefs and behaviours. Language has the power to persuade, change or reinforce beliefs and stereotypes - for better or worse. Words do more than reflect people's reality: they create reality and affect how people view the world and their diabetes. Language needs to engage people with diabetes and support their self-care efforts. Importantly, language that de-motivates or induces fear, guilt or distress needs to be avoided and countered. Diabetes Australia believes optimal communication increases the motivation, health and well-being of people with diabetes, and that careless or negative language can be de-motivating, is often inaccurate, and can be harmful. Diabetes Australia developed this position statement to encourage greater awareness of the language surrounding diabetes and provide recommendations for more careful and positive language use.