Our aim is to reduce the impact of diabetes on society – and improve the lives of people with diabetes – by fostering an understanding of the disease, eliminating misplaced blame, and ensuring access to care.
Since 2016, the diaTribe Foundation has convened annual meetings with groups of diverse leaders from across the diabetes ecosystem. These dSeries Executive Innovation Labs harness the power of collective thinking to address the problem of the global diabetes epidemic.
The idea for the dNetwork grew out of the collaborative, action-minded spirit of the innovation labs. We are a varied group of people with different perspectives and experiences of diabetes: physicians and educators, industry executives and entrepreneurs, researchers, community leaders, nutritionists, advocates, and people with diabetes. We seek to understand root causes of the diabetes epidemic and innovate solutions that address those causes on a systemic level.
To reduce the impact of diabetes we need to change the system
In 2019 and 2020, we synthesized rich ideas for systemic action that arose at the d19 Executive Innovation Lab, drawing lessons from other social movement successes. In this process, it became clear that addressing stigma and the narratives that perpetuate it is one of the most powerful steps our multi-stakeholder group can take to impact the diabetes epidemic.
We see stigma as a barrier to catalyzing the change needed across all parts of the diabetes ecosystem. Blame and shame experienced by people with diabetes, as well as overt discrimination, prevents people from seeking and receiving necessary treatment. Misplaced blame leads to a lack of openness about having diabetes, which contributes to individuals feeling isolated and reduces public perception of the severity of the problem. Addressing stigma can help us build a larger movement, bring in more partners, and gather support for tackling other areas of necessary change: the food system, nutrition and healthcare policy, media portrayal, care access and treatment for individuals, etc.
Our work groups are collaborations of experts and advocates who share an interest in advancing projects in a focused area. They enable people to share expertise, coordinate resources, identify new partners, and drive action. The diaTribe Foundation is currently taking the lead to shepherd the following groups.
Objective: Encourage research to improve our understanding of diabetes stigma
Existing studies, though useful, do not lay a sufficient foundation for documenting the scope and breadth of the problem of diabetes stigma in the USA. One goal of the research work group is to create a research agenda — with input from leading experts in diabetes and related fields — to serve as a roadmap that can guide academic research and funding for future studies that illuminate the experience of diabetes and evaluate methods for reducing stigma.
Objective: Reduce stigmatizing information and interactions in healthcare settings
The healthcare group is initially focused on identifying actionable strategies that will produce “high-value wins.” Examples include surveys to identify bias among healthcare practitioners, raising awareness at annual scientific sessions and conferences, adding stigma education to residency programs, and targeting medical student associations such as AMSA to educate the next generation of doctors.
Objective: Encourage accuracy and empathy in journalism and entertainment
The media advocacy group has identified several ideas for addressing diabetes stigma in popular culture: creating a “core story” to highlight key messages and a new narrative about diabetes, conducting landscape research on current media coverage of diabetes, and identifying authors and publications that write about diabetes who can be encouraged to join this effort. In memory of our friend and colleague, Thom Scher of Beyond Type 1, diaTribe wishes to dedicate the work of the media advocacy group in his name.
Objective: Grow a movement to shift the culture around diabetes in the US
The dNetwork development group is working on shaping a strategy for growth. This group explored options such as an initial ‘big splash’ campaign such as a Coming Out event and/or an influencer pledge to invite a broader audience into this effort, and discussed ways to use dNetwork connections to launch a campaign and build the visibility and funding needed for wider-reaching impact.
Find out how you can take individual action here. To learn more about our efforts and how you can contribute, contact us at stigma@diaTribe.org.