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Understanding and enhancing the school experiences of children and adolescents living with Type 1 Diabetes

Besides the challenges associated with their teenage years, adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) encounter additional challenges of having a chronic condition.

Research shows that young people with T1D are at higher risk for mental health problems than their healthy peers. Positive school experiences that promote psychosocial wellbeing are therefore vital for children and adolescents with T1D. This project brings together the expertise of researchers, stakeholders and policy makers to ensure the research is relevant, thorough and translatable. The purpose of this project is to provide an in-depth understanding of the experience of children and adolescents with T1D at school and to outline ways that school communities can contribute to the psychosocial wellbeing of these students.

Project phases

Phase 1: Reference group

The reference group will enhance engagement of, and recruitment from the T1D community, review the progress of the research, be involved in dissemination of findings and development of the guidelines, and assist in planning a future intervention. Engagement of such a group is critical to ensure the project research outcomes are ‘owned’, relevant, sustainable and can be translated into policy and practice for schools, families, institutions and community groups connected to the school community. If parents are interested in being part of the reference group, please contact Leanne Fried (details below).

Phase 2: Case studies of school communities

Three school communities (one from each education sector) recognised by our partners, School of Special Education Needs: Medical and Mental Health (SSEN:MMH) as providing a positive experience for students with T1D, will be chosen for the case studies. Data will be collected from parents, peers, teachers, student services personnel and personnel from community groups involved with the schools. From this data collection, a model will be developed to show what good support in a school for children and adolescents with T1D can look like.

Phase 3: Students with T1D as co-researchers

In this phase, a summit will be organised. Adolescent students with T1D will be invited to act as T1D ambassadors and together with parents, will become co-researchers in this project. The summit will help us to further understand the school experiences of adolescent students and to develop a set of guidelines to enable the positive psychosocial development of students with T1D. If adolescents would like to be part of the summit, contact Leanne Fried (details below).

Project participants

The focus of this project is students aged 10-18 years of age with a diagnosis of T1D in mainstream Western Australian schools. Other participants will be parents, school staff and peers.

Expected outcomes

From this research we will develop a model to illustrate support in schools for students with T1D. We will also produce a set of guidelines for schools aimed at developing the psychosocial wellbeing of students with T1D. Further funding will be sought to trial the guidelines in schools.

For more information, contact Leanne Fried at Leanne.Fried@telethonkids.org.au