Mind your language in diabetes discussions

Diabetes Australia and AMA Victoria have recently released a position statement recommending that healthcare professionals and the media use a greater level of sensitivity when describing and discussing diabetes.

According to the statement’s creators, referring to diabetes as a ‘disease’, and labelling those with it as ‘diabetics’ or ‘sufferers’, is common in Australia, but these terms can be “harmful and inaccurate”. Moreover, using terminology such as ‘non-compliant’, ‘non-coherent’ and ‘poorly controlled’, should also be avoided. 

“Using this type of language can make people feel that their health professional doesn’t appreciate the efforts they make to manage their diabetes. This can contribute to feelings of frustration, guilt and distress, as well as be demotivating,” says Professor Jane Speight, foundation director of the Australian Centre for