Background Diabetes in adolescence presents difficulties. Many young people feel isolated and frustrated by the disease and its impact on their lives.1 This is a high-risk period for poor healthcare engagement and increased risk of complications.1,2
The Youth Empowering Skills (YES) programme works with adolescents with diabetes who have low levels of engagement with diabetes care from socially deprived areas. YES contrasts with traditional diabetes education models as it uses novel strategies to build social and psychological resilience in tandem with diabetes skills.
Methodology We aimed to co-design and co-deliver with young people with diabetes an innovative education model to: enhance engagement; develop diabetes life-skills; promote positive coping and resilience; provide social resources and support; and improve health outcomes.
Underpinned by social-cognitive theory, delivery involved simulations, peer-led sessions and naturalistic activities (such as rock-climbing) in youth centres over three days. Professional actors replicated clinical scenarios and debriefing encouraged participants to reflect on their experiences, thinking and behaviour.
Throughout and after the programme, peer-support was facilitated by a youth worker through social media, sustaining dialogue with and between the participants.
We sought feedback and elicited views of participants to evaluate impact and optimise delivery.
Results YES was piloted with 15 young people. The mean pre-YES HbA1c was 11.3% (±2.8) and post-YES was 9.8% (±2.5) (p < 0.02), with two-thirds of participants achieving clinically significant reductions in their HbA1c (≥0.5%). Evaluation showed improvements in engagement with diabetes care and enhancement in adaptations to life with diabetes. Further results will be presented at conference.
Conclusion YES has significantly impacted the lives of participants and the diabetes service through co-design, youth worker support, using simulation to encourage reflection and challenge beliefs whilst developing skills, and use of social media. This approach is transferable to other contexts and can be adjusted to local educational and health needs.
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