Diabetes Stories Website - February 2015

Welcome to our all-new monthly spotlight on an organisation or resource that can help us all in our quest for better health!

The February spotlight's on......The Diabetes Stories website

Read on for all the details and/or download your personal copy here

What is it?

Diabetes Stories is a website set up by the Oxford Centre for Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM). It consists of stories and experiences of people with diabetes, families and health professionals from each decade between the 1920s and early 2000s. There are 100 stories, including interviews, video clips and downloads. Together these stories form an oral social and medical history of diabetes in the 20th century.  Its intention is to show how diabetes services and technological developments have affected the lives of people living and working with diabetes over successive decades, but it also serves as a contribution to the history of medicine itself.

Diabetes Stories was the brainchild of Professor David Matthews of OCDEM. He was inspired by the memories and experiences he heard from the people with diabetes attending his clinics and felt that there should be a collection of such memories.  This developed into a way of also capturing the stories of those working in the field of diabetes care.

Diabetes Stories was a collaboration between OCDEM and an oral historian, Helen Lloyd and was funded by 2 project grants from the Wellcome Trust.  As well as the website, copies of the recordings have been archived in the British Library and at OCDEM itself.

The website is easy to navigate and search, by person, by topic or by decade, for example. Each of the stories has a series of short extracts from the interview, highlighting different topics covered in it, or you can play the whole interview or download its transcript.  Some of the interviews have ‘extra content’, such as photographs and examples of equipment, supplied by the interviewee.

Diabetes Stories is a vast and absorbing resource which has something useful for everyone living or working with diabetes and for researchers both now and in the future

How can it help me with living with diabetes?

Many people say that one of the most helpful aspects of learning about living with diabetes is to share the experiences and feelings and practical tips from others who also live with it.  With Diabetes Stories, you can learn from others, not only currently, but from the past.  You can also get an insight ‘behind the scenes’ from health professionals and care workers and see how history has shaped the services you receive today.

You can use the topic search to look for any aspect of diabetes from any interview, which can help when you are looking into aspects of your own condition or experience.

Finally, you can gain motivation and inspiration from the stories, either because you can see how life has turned out for those who did not have access to our modern-day treatments or because of their successes in managing their condition, ‘against all the odds’

How can it help me with working with diabetes?

You can learn from health professionals who have pioneered new treatments or ways of working, and be inspired by their careers or research.  Diabetes Stories serves very well as a history of diabetes care, so you can become more aware of where developments you may have seen have come from.  If you’re studying diabetes, it can really help you find evidence and quotations to bring your assignments to life!

The best insights for health professionals are often those of people with diabetes themselves and this site gives you easy access to a whole variety of these, which you can listen to and reflect on  - and maybe even share with people you are currently seeing now, who might be experiencing some of the same sort of challenges – a kind of virtual ‘friend with diabetes’!

You can spread the word in your clinics and consultations that this resource exists, so that people have a different context for their diabetes and an opportunity to look at it themselves and find what is most useful to them

Our 3 top reasons to give Diabetes Stories a try


1.    It’s really easy to read and navigate

2.    It’s a mine of useful information and resource for many aspects of living and working with diabetes over the years

3.    You can dip in and out of it, whenever there’s a specific aspect you’d like to hear about


Any down sides?

As ever, just a couple of tiny things:

1.  When you listen to the recordings, there is just a blank screen, where it would be nice to have a picture of the interviewee, to link the story with the person         

2.    The recordings end in the early 2000s, around 2007, so more recent developments and experiences aren’t included.

That’s it for now! Hope you like our take on Diabetes Stories and watch out for another ‘Self Health Spotlight’ in March!

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