diaTribe Writing Guidelines: Stigma

diaTribe refrains from using stigmatizing language when referring to people with diabetes, diabetes and its complications, and the management of diabetes.

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In all cases, aim to use language that is neutral, nonjudgmental, and based on facts, actions, or physiology/biology. In addition, use language that is person-centered and encourages collaboration between people with diabetes and their entire care team. And finally, be intentional about avoiding words or phrases that indicate a value judgment or blame (such as good, bad, poor, normal, fail, control, or adherence).

The following common terms are representative and are not intended as an exhaustive list. For more information on using non-stigmatizing language, visit the dStigmatize Language Guide.

  • Use “person with diabetes” or “people with diabetes” as opposed to “patients.” Never use the word “diabetic” as a noun or adjective unless referring to a medical condition (e.g. diabetic ketoacidosis).
    • For example: Many people with diabetes like using continuous glucose monitors to help them track their glucose levels.
    • For example: This FDA approval offers another medication option for people with diabetes.
  • Use “with excess weight” or “with obesity” rather than “is overweight” or “is obese.”
    • For example: People with obesity or excess weight may benefit from using a GLP-1 receptor agonist.
  • Use words that reflect or foster collaboration between people with diabetes and their healthcare professionals like “participate” or “is involved in” instead of “adherent” or “compliant.”
    • For example: Try to be involved in decisions around what medications and technology your healthcare professional prescribes you by asking lots of questions and taking notes during your appointments.
    • For example: People with diabetes who actively participate in their diabetes management often have better overall health outcomes.
  • Use “manage” instead of “control.”
    • For example: The participants in the clinical trial were able to better manage their glucose levels with the help of the new drug.
  • Use “healthcare professional” over “physician” or “doctor,” since healthcare professional is more inclusive (diabetes care is provided by lots of different kinds of healthcare providers).
    • For example: Many people with diabetes see their healthcare professional two to four times a year.