Monash project to help Chinese Australians living with diabetes

Tammy Choi

Ms Tammie Choi

A Monash University research project will help older Chinese Australians with type 2 diabetes better manage the condition following a $60,000 grant from the ADEA Diabetes Research Foundation, to coincide with world diabetes day.

Monash, in partnership with Carrington Health, Box Hill, has established the pilot project, ‘不再慌糖講座 Not Scared of Sugar’ to focus on Chinese Australians currently missing out on structured diabetes education services.

Type 2 diabetes affects 80 per cent of Chinese Australians aged over 60, significantly higher than the general population, but many don’t access health management programs due to cultural reasons.

Monash dietitian researcher and lead investigator, Ms Tammie Choi, said lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise could reduce the disease’s impact on individuals and the healthcare system, pointing to the need for a structured diabetes education program.

“Currently there is a lack of culturally appropriate diabetes education for Chinese Australians to support them manage their blood sugar levels.”

Studies have shown that Chinese Australians don’t like the translated diabetes care model and miss out on health professionals’ support and care.

“They tend to rely on unstructured and potentially misleading diabetes management information and many of my Chinese patients expressed feeling lost and overwhelmed,” said Ms Choi.

After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a few years ago, a Hong Kong Melbournian couple attended translated consultations with a diabetes educator and a dietitian.

“The individual consultations with professionals were good but we’re not used to being at the centre of attention so we felt very uncomfortable and didn’t return to the review appointments,” said Mr Lee.

Ms Choi said the Not Scared of Sugar pilot project will enable Chinese Australians with diabetes to live well every day by providing culturally tailored diabetes education programs in a format that matches their expectations while measuring its effectiveness.

“Through this study we hope to use the diabetes education program as a forum to reconnect the affected Chinese people with health services and support them better in their diabetes self-management.”

Chair of the ADEA Diabetes Research Foundation Council, Professor Trisha Dunning, said the study would lead to significant health benefits.

“This culturally tailored Chinese diabetes education program has the potential to improve clinical outcomes for participants and has implications for other populations in Australia,” said Professor Dunning.

The ADEA Diabetes Research Foundation is funding three universities in Australia and their partners to conduct research projects that help Australians with diabetes to live well every day.