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Motivating dietary change among people with type 2 diabetes: A resource pack for practice nurses

Rachel Povey
Psychological tools designed to help practice nurses to motivate their patients with type 2 diabetes to make healthy dietary changes.

Dietary and lifestyle changes are the first and foremost part of the management of type 2 diabetes. Motivating Dietary Change among People with Type 2 Diabetes: A Resource Pack for Practice Nurses is a free electronic resource that is available by request to the author. The resource packs have been designed to help practice nurses to motivate their patients with type 2 diabetes to make healthy dietary changes.

The resources are based on research which was funded by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, together with GlaxoSmithKline, and explored the beliefs of people with type 2 diabetes about healthy eating. The research was completed by Dr Rachel Povey, an Associate Professor in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University, with collaborators Professor David White (Staffordshire University) and Dr Peter Hale (Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport), and consisted of two studies. The first explored data from questionnaires completed by 127 people with type 2 diabetes from South Manchester. Statistical analyses of the data indicated that patients’ perceptions of their nurses’ (and friends’) attitudes towards the dietary advice they had been given was a crucial factor determining the extent to which they followed it. Therefore, the attitudes, beliefs and actions of practice nurses (and other healthcare professionals) are likely to be important elements in helping people with diabetes to implement and maintain changes in their lifestyles.

The second study interviewed focus groups with practice nurses, diabetes specialist nurses and a specialist dietitian about their experiences of motivating people with type 2 diabetes to follow healthy diets. It is hoped that by basing the pack on real-life experiences, problems and concerns raised by healthcare professionals, the pack will be more relevant to practice nurses.

The pack consists of several resources which have been designed so that they can be copied and used within clinic settings. These “psychological tools” include handouts which can help patients in “weighing up the pros and cons” of eating more healthily, “estimating portion sizes” and “planning changes”, as well as some “useful techniques for keeping motivated”. There are also guidelines for healthy eating, some examples of healthy eating options and an example food diary. Alongside the resources is a useful practical guide with suggestions and techniques for encouraging patients to make dietary changes, from motivating change to making and maintaining the changes.

The resource pack has also been used as the basis of a very successful training programme for practice nurses, delivered at Staffordshire University by Rachel Povey and Dr Lisa Cowap, together with a specialist dietitian from Manchester Diabetes Centre, Sue Curtis. Feedback from practitioners includes:

“The resources will be very useful for patients. Clear advice for them… very useful for me when talking to patients.”

“Just to let you know have seen three people with diabetes since Wednesday and we have used the tools and set realistic goals in dietary change.”

If you would like an electronic copy of the Resource Pack, please contact the author, Dr Rachel Povey, directly by email:

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