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14 November 2017

New diabetes self-management education course for South Asian population

Three London borough's will be field testing the self-management tool created by researchers at King's.

Curry in bowls
Buffet in a restaurant

Researchers at King’s College London have signed an agreement with three partner organisations to offer a customised type 2 diabetes self-management education programme for the South Asian population in three London Boroughs.

The Diabetes for South Asians (DoSA) programme is a bespoke three-month long diabetes self-management course for South Asians with type 2 diabetes. It was developed over several years, through research at King’s College London, the University of Warwick and working with people from different South Asian communities. The programme has been available to patients in Bexley since August 2017 and is now available in Greenwich and Lewisham as part of a wider field trial.

Type 2 diabetes is a long-term health condition that is characterised by high levels of glucose in the blood. The condition is often, but not always, associated with being overweight, can take many years to develop and can damage the body, particularly if it is not diagnosed early enough. Common complications associated with Type 2 diabetes include heart disease; stroke; kidney disease (nephropathy); eye disease (retinopathy) and nerve damage (neuropathy), which raises the risk of amputation.

People from South Asian communities are known to be up to six times more likely to have type 2 diabetes than the general population. In addition, South Asians tend to have poorer diabetes management, putting them at higher risk of serious health complications, such as cardiovascular disease.

Furthermore, the survival rates in South Asian young patients are also significantly lower compared to the Caucasian population.

The DoSA programme has been developed involving people from Sikh, Punjabi and Gujerati communities during three joint workshops held over six months. It offers South Asian adults living with type 2 diabetes a range of resources to help them manage their condition. This includes: personal appointments with diabetes educators; a colourful and upbeat manual incorporating information, stories, knowledge quizzes and places to track their own diabetes activities.

Over the three month duration of the project, the diabetes educator offers three telephone or email contacts to provide support, motivation and answer any diabetes health-related questions. Additional information is also available in two booklets called Healthy Eating: healthy eating and cooking with Type 2 diabetes and Celebrations: managing celebrations with type 2 diabetes.

The programme resources are written in English, but the personal appointments may be delivered by diabetes educators in different South Asian languages (where these language skills are available locally).

The roll-out of the DoSA programme is a collaboration involving King’s College London, the University of Warwick, Spirit Healthcare, Successful Diabetes and Bexley Health Ltd. In addition to having developed the programme, King’s is leading the service evaluation of the field trial sites.  

Spirit Healthcare is a provider of products and services and specialises in diabetes education and management. They are working to recruit Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to the DoSA field trials. These are NHS diabetes education providers who add DoSA to their portfolio of patient education programmes.

Successful Diabetes is an organisation which supports people living or working with the condition by providing education and skills training, particularly for healthcare professionals in the NHS. Successful Diabetes is providing the training for diabetes educators delivering DoSA and has also been involved in creating content for the programme

Bexley Health Ltd is a CCG responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services in three London Boroughs - Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham. They are the first CCG in the UK to offer the DoSA programme to patients in their area.

It has been fantastic to work with people from different South Asian cultural backgrounds to develop DoSA. Their input has been essential to ensure it speaks both to the broad South Asian community but also more specifically to communities within that.

Jackie Sturt, Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Nursing

‘Modifying cooking methods and managing celebrations, for example, are vital parts of living successfully with diabetes and these needs are often different according to religion and culture. It has been important to reflect this in the programme to ensure that people can see that it is personalised to them and their lifestyle as much as possible.’

Rosie Walker, Owner and Director of Successful Diabetes added: ‘DoSA is a high quality, one to one education programme which will meet a huge need for tailored diabetes related education among people of South Asian origin and lifestyle. It has been a pleasure to partner with King’s and Spirit Healthcare and the participating field trial centres. I am proud to have been involved in DoSA’s development and in the field trials, and look forward to its roll out nationally to the benefit of people with Type 2 diabetes’

Tim Loveridge, Managing Director Clinical Services, Spirit Healthcare said: ‘Spirit Healthcare is proud to have been selected as a partner to the DoSA programme. As an organisation, we are committed to making the nation happier and healthier through empowering patients to better self-care. Our proven structured diabetes education programmes consistently score 99% on the NHS Friends and Family referral test and feedback from patients is that they consistently help them better understand their condition.’

The DoSA programme is currently being rolled out three London Boroughs as a field trial and it is hoped will become more widely available soon. CCGs interested in providing a DoSA field trial and for more information about the DoSA programme, please visit