Reducing driving mishaps among adults with type 1 diabetes

Dr Steven Trawley from the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, in partnership with Diabetes Victoria, will receive $60,000 from the ADEA Diabetes Research Foundation to conduct ‘DiabetesDriving-Australia’ (DDA), a project helping people with type 1 diabetes to optimise their diabetes management in relation to driving.

“The first and only time that I ‘passed out’ from a severe hypo, I was very anxious and concerned,” Ms Renza Scibilia recalled the event which then involved paramedics’ attention.

“I immediately spoke with my endocrinologist and the first thing I was advised was that I was not permitted to drive for at least six weeks.”

“I asked what I needed to do to be allowed to drive again, and I was told there were no additional requirements other than sit out the six week no-driving period.”

There is currently no established approach to assist drivers with diabetes following severe hypoglycaemia or when they return to driving.

“I felt there was something missing in the process of getting me back on the road,” said Ms Scibilia.

Dr Trawley said “the number of “at-risk” individuals among the Australian population is potentially high, as a recent Victorian research study indicates that one in five adults with type 1 diabetes has experienced a severe hypoglycaemic event in the previous 6 months”.

DDA will develop an Australian version of the intervention, a low-cost education program designed by Professor Daniel Cox from the University of Virginia to support at-risk drivers with type 1 diabetes.

DDA will consist of an online education program and a tool-kit to be kept in a car, containing a pre-drive checklist, rapid-acting and long-acting glucose sources, a blood glucose meter, blood glucose driving benchmark keychain and stickers.

“At present, there are no targeted interventions available for Australians to reduce their risk of driving mishaps as a result of variations in blood glucose levels,” said Mr Craig Bennett, CEO of Diabetes Victoria.

The goal of DDA is to help drivers with type 1 diabetes to better anticipate, prevent, detect and treat low blood glucose while driving.

“This proposed intervention is designed to fill this gap, providing easy, fast and cost-effective support for adults with type 1 diabetes at risk of driving mishaps, together with the support from their health professional teams.

“Driving is important for people to maintain their independence and self-esteem. Not being able to drive can make people feel isolated and impair their quality of life. Research such as this will be important in helping adults with type 1 diabetes drive confidently and safely – empowering them to live well with diabetes,” Mr Bennett added.

Chair of the ADEA Diabetes Research Foundation, Ms Melinda Seed said “I am delighted that we can support such a practical and readily implementable project. It is pleasing that the project is a collaboration between researchers and health professionals and most importantly will be informed by people with type 1 diabetes.”

Launched last year by the Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, the ADEA Diabetes Research Foundation will fund three universities in Australia to conduct research projects that help Australians with diabetes to live well every day.

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