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01.12.2019 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2019

Type 2 Diabetes: how informed are the general public? A cross-sectional study investigating disease awareness and barriers to communicating knowledge in high-risk populations in London

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2019
Reem Kayyali, Natasha Slater, Aisha Sahi, Deepa Mepani, Karima Lalji, Ako Abdallah
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12889-019-6460-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Preventing type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is one of the biggest health challenges currently facing the UK, with the NHS spending £14 billion each year on treating the disease and associated symptoms.


The aim of this study was to determine the public’s awareness about the symptoms, risk factors and lifestyle choices, commonly associated with T2DM. This study also aimed to determine whether the level of awareness varies if the questions are asked in different languages, primarily those spoken by ethnic minorities.


This was a cross sectional, multisite study conducted in London, UK, involving 399 participants, who were non-diabetic, aged between 25 and 74 years old and living in one of four selected London boroughs. Descriptive statistics, Chi square and Fisher’s Exact Tests were used to highlight and summarise the key findings of this study.


A response rate of 23.7% (n = 399/1683) for the English questionnaire was achieved. Overall, 59.4% (n = 237/399) of the cohort were able to identify a minimum of three T2DM symptoms and thus, were considered to have adequate or good awareness. Whereas, 60.6% (n = 242/399) were able to identify a minimum of six T2DM risk factors and were considered to have adequate or good awareness. More participants could correctly identify that obesity was a risk factor of T2DM when they were asked the question in their spoken language, rather than English (p < 0.01). When participants were asked about their current lifestyle choices, there were high levels of inactivity, smoking and alcohol consumption reported.


Despite approximately half of participants demonstrating adequate or good awareness about the symptoms, risk factors and lifestyle choices commonly associated with T2DM, yet the study still highlights gaps in awareness among the remaining proportion of participants. Future prevention interventions should be tailored to address these existing gaps in awareness.
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