Psychological challenges associated with considering new technology 

Diabetes technology has the potential to significantly improve quality of life for those with Type 1 Diabetes. However, as with anything, it is not always a ‘bed of roses’ and in this section we summarise some of the possible difficulties of using diabetes technology and it’s impact upon emotional wellbeing.

People with t1 diabetes share their experiences with technology and diabetes:

 Click on each item for more information: 

Technology can sometimes be portrayed as the “gold standard” of diabetes management, and people with diabetes may feel pressure from others (e.g., family, the wider diabetes community, healthcare professionals) to start using it – even when they are not ready or do not want to.


Remember only you can decide what available systems of diabetes self-management are best for you and your lifestyle.

 
It can feel daunting to trust technology to assist with diabetes management, especially for people who have managed without technology for some time. Some people may feel anxious to ‘hand over’ some of the responsibility for checking glucose levels or delivering insulin to a technological system.

Most types of diabetes technology have numerous functions which can feel overwhelming and confusing at first.


All of these feelings are understandable and natural. However, the vast majority of people do find that, in time, they build confidence in working with their technology and come to see it as an ally in their day-to-day activities.

  • People can find wearing a sensor or pump difficult because they may not like the look of it or want a continuous (visible) reminder of having diabetes.
  • Some may be worried about showing others they have diabetes or facing questions/comments if others see devices.
  • People can be concerned about how wearing technology such as pumps might affect body image, clothing choices, engagement in certain activities (e.g., sport), or physical intimacy.
  • Some people find it helpful to have some stock responses ready for questions about diabetes technology that you can use according to the situation.
  • It can be helpful to talk to other people who use diabetes technology about how they’ve adapted to certain situations.  If you don’t know anyone else using the same technology as you the online Type 1 Diabetes community can be an option (see The Diabetes Community section – here).
  • It can be helpful to talk openly with your diabetes team about your particular concerns to find out about the various ways other people with Type 1 Diabetes they work with might have managed similar concerns.
Diabetes technology offers a continuous flow of information about glucose levels, and this can feel overwhelming at times. People may become preoccupied with their diabetes data and spend considerable time analysing it. It can be particularly difficult if the numbers are not as you hope or expect. Built in alarm systems can also interrupt daily activities, or disrupt sleep, which can be tiring and frustrating.


If you decide to move forward with diabetes technology it can be really important to work with your diabetes team to decide together what information and functions are the most useful to look at and use, and what you can disregard at the beginning.


If you recognise that dissatisfaction with the data will be a source of distress for you then it may be worth working your way through the Diabetes Distress and Burnout section.

People may be worried about experiencing pain or discomfort around insertion sites, getting infections from the cannula, or experiencing adverse skin reactions (e.g., to adhesives). Some may be self-conscious if they get scarring due to insertion.   


Talk to your team about your worries to learn about the likelihood of these difficulties and various ways other people with Type 1 Diabetes manage them.

There is always a chance of technology failing and this risk (however small) can be anxiety provoking for some people.  If a system stops working for any reason, you will need to temporarily revert back to previous methods of checking glucose levels or administering insulin.  Understandably this can feel frustrating and daunting if you have come to rely on diabetes technology to help you manage your diabetes.


You may need to interact with technology company representatives or your diabetes team to help get these problems resolved, however the helplines provided by the companies are usually very helpful and responsive to your needs.

 
Even with technology, the person still needs to play an active role in their diabetes management. They need to make choices and decisions on a daily basis and learn to interact with the technology – this can take time and perseverance. Also, people may still need to do finger prick testing to check glucose levels (e.g., if how they are feeling does not match what the device is telling them, or if the technology stops working).  
With the person’s permission, data gathered from technology can be readily ‘shared’ with others (e.g., family members, healthcare professionals). For some people, this may feel intrusive and result in unwanted attention to their diabetes.   


If you wish to share your data with others, choose people in your network who are supportive.  Talk together about what you'd like them to do with this data eg give them some direction about how to use it to support you and also be clear with them about what you would find unhelpful.


Talk with your team about how you would like to review your data together in your clinic appointments so that it is helpful to you.


Go to ‘Diabetes technology and emotional wellbeing’ to return to the main topic page, or choose another section.

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