Evidence to improve diabetes care in Ireland

Lead researcher: Professor Patricia Kearney, University College Cork (UCC)

The problem

Diabetes is a common and debilitating chronic condition that costs the Irish healthcare system hundreds of millions of euros each year. A decade ago, there were few supports for diabetes in the community and we needed more information about trends in the Irish population.


The project

A HRB Research Leader Award meant that Professor Patricia Kearney could develop a body of research with the National Clinical Programme for Diabetes to gather and apply current data about diabetes in Ireland.


The outcomes

  • We now know that 8% of the Irish population aged over 50 years has diabetes (although many people are not diagnosed) and that numbers are set to rise in our ageing population, so it is important that we enable Ireland to plan prevention and health supports accordingly.
  • An evaluation of the National Clinical Programme for Diabetes, which is now informing diabetes-related services in Ireland, including nursing, podiatry, eye screening, stroke treatment and management of chronic kidney disease.
  • The researchers worked with general practitioners (GPs) to identify ways to increase the enrolment of patients on Diabetic RetinaScreen, a screening programme for eye damage that can occur in diabetes.

Professor Patricia Kearney, Professor of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health, UCC, says:

“Diabetes is one of the largest health burdens in Ireland, and we know now that it affects almost one in 10 people in the entire population, damaging their organs and body systems over time. During the course of eight years on this project, we captured and analysed data about diabetes in Ireland that has directly informed and improved many of the services for people with diabetes that we are now seeing in the community. From that foundation, we are continuing to find solid evidence and move it into practice so that evidence improves care and strengthens our approaches to prevention, with the aim of reducing the negative impacts on people and the financial impact on the Irish economy.”

Evidence to improve diabetes care in Ireland is part of a wider collection of success stories across four themes from this year's annual Health Research in Action.

Download the full Health Research in Action publication (549 kB).

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