Changing the Conversation Can Change How People Feel

By, Deborah Greenwood PhD, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, FAADE Chief Digital Research Officer, Diabetes Mytonomy 2015 President, American Association of Diabetes Educators

August 17, 2018

This June we released our first video on Why Language Matters at Mytonomy. This month, as we kick off the American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting in Baltimore, we are releasing our second video. This one is about how changing the conversation when speaking about diabetes and chronic conditions can change how people feel.

No one asks to have diabetes, yet the way we speak in healthcare, the media and even in general conversations implies otherwise. Often, words are used that blame people for having diabetes, shame them into hiding the fact that they live with diabetes or judge their behaviors and even their character. When these stigmatizing and judgmental words are used, living with diabetes becomes much harder. However, we can change the conversation!

Click Here to Watch: "Changing the Conversation"

The joint American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) task force is asking healthcare professionals, researchers, writers, editors and the public to join this movement and change the conversation by using language that:

  • Is neutral, non-judgmental and based on facts, actions or physiology/biology
  • Is free from stigma
  • Is strengths-based, respectful, inclusive and imparts hope
  • Fosters collaboration between patients and providers
  • Is person-centered

Words can change the way people feel. And when we change the way people feel we can make diabetes easier to manage. Mytonomy created this video to let the world know language is important to us.

“As healthcare professionals, we strive to do everything we can to improve outcomes and the quality of life for people affected by diabetes, and language is a tool to do that,” said Donna Ryan RD, RN, MPH, FAADE, 2018 AADE president, and vice president of population health at Ascension Florida. “Initiatives like this carry the conversation forward and build upon the work by AADE and others. Working together and choosing words that empower and motivate makes us better professionals and healthcare advocates.”

Renza Scibilia, Manager, Type 1 Diabetes, Diabetes Australia and Blogger at Diabetogenic, has been living with type 1 diabetes for 20 years, and was filmed in the video. She says:

“For many years now, people with diabetes have been explaining why the language used when speaking to and about us is critically important in helping us manage our diabetes as best we can. It is so wonderful to see the ground swell of diabetes organizations, health professionals and media groups who are also working towards using words that support and encourage us rather than blame and shame us. I am thrilled to be involved in this video and sharing my ideas on why language matters in diabetes.”

So, join us in changing the conversation about diabetes! We invite you to share these videos and let the world know that language matters to you too! Access the video by clicking on the image above.

Additional resources for health-care professionals and the media to help change the conversation are available free here.