IOE - Faculty of Education and Society



These research projects explore the views and health care experiences of children with diabetes.


Children as partners with adults in their healthcare

What was this project about?

Children with type 1 diabetes discussed their condition and ways in which they share in managing their medical and health care with adults. 

The project was funded by the Childhood Research Fund from the Social Science Research Unit, IOE.

Who was in this project?

24 children aged 3-12 years who have type I diabetes were in the project. Some children received care from inner London hospitals and some from a hospital in a commuter town in the South of England.

Why was the research done?

Managing a life-long condition such as Type 1 diabetes requires important decisions every day. Healthcare staff need to understand how best to involve and support child patients, in decision-making. 

What did we find?
  • The interviews showed that children's key goals were to be “normal” and “just get on with their lives”.
  • The children described managing a complicated balance between the sometimes competing goals of social health i.e. “being normal” and physical health i.e. managing their diabetes.
  • However, the interviews showed that children's experiences of diabetes meant they could make informed and “wise” decisions in their own best interests, even at a young age.



aerial photo of kids - diabetes project

Shared decision-making: an evidence-based approach for supporting children, parents and practitioners to manage chronic conditions

What was this project about?

Children and parents discuss how they work with each other and with health practitioners in managing diabetes care.

The Economic and Social Research Council and the Medical Research Council jointly funded the work.

Who was in this project?

11 children with diabetes aged between 7 and 15 years and 12 parents. The children were receiving care for their diabetes either from a hospital in London or one in the South East of England.

Why was the research done?

Shared decision-making means involving children and parents in the process of making healthcare decisions. It draws on healthcare practitioners' professional expertise as well as children's and parents' experience and values.

This study aimed to understand children's and parents' views about shared decision-making and the factors that support successful approaches.

What did we find? 

Good care

Children and parents valued individualised support and sufficient time for discussion, as well as friendly and approachable practitioners who respect their opinions.

Successful partnerships

The findings show that many children want to be involved and contribute their informed and considered opinions when discussing with practitioners. Some described how parents can support children by acting as an intermediary if children are not confident to speak up when talking to practitioners. Children and parents appreciated practitioners who made efforts to include children in discussions.

Diabetes in everyday life

Children described how fitting diabetes into their everyday lives can be challenging but that knowledge and experience helps them to do this. Flexible regimes that offer greater freedom and choice are valued.