Psychological Experiences of Type 2 Diabetes and Coeliac Disease

The OU are conducting research about the psychological experiences of type 2 diabetes and coeliac (celiac) disease, in a joint project between the School of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences and the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care.


The prevalence of conditions that need to be managed by diet is increasing quickly, and psychological research needs to catch up. The world is changing and so are our attitudes towards food: we spend a lot of time watching television programmes about food, tweeting about food, and talking about what is healthy or not. What psychological impact do these experiences have on people who are told what they must eat or stay away from certain foods in order maintain good physical health?



The main aim of this project is to increase understanding of what it is like to experience coeliac disease or type 2 diabetes. This includes how the conditions are managed in day-to-day life and the impact this management can have on mental health and wellbeing. These conditions are growing throughout the world, and while a lot of research is being dedicated to dietary management and medical complications, less is known about the psychological impact of such care. This is what we intend to study, with the goal of improving mental health and helping healthcare practitioners to give people with these conditions the best help they can.


Data Collection – What Can I Do?

To fulfil our aims, we plan to distribute a purpose-built questionnaire to people with type 2 diabetes and people with coeliac disease, alongside running face-to-face and online focus groups wherein people will be asked to chat about their condition in an atmosphere where everybody else has a similar diagnosis. There will also be two case studies, wherein two participants – one man and one woman – will be invited to a series of interviews with the hopeful aim of increasing understanding for the researcher through a more detailed look at the impact of diet-maintained conditions on a person’s life.


If you would like to take part in any one of these studies, please contact: Alternatively, you can contact her supervisors at the email addresses below or fill in the form at the bottom of this page.

Dr. Claire Rostron (LHCS):

Prof. Cathy Lloyd (HWSC):

Dr. Bryan Singer (LHCS):




If you are interested in learning more about this project or the psychological impact of diet-managed conditions, please visit the following links: – OU module ‘Investigating Mental Health’ includes free learning materials on mood, emotion and depression – Dr. Claire Rostron writes about myths that surround diabetes. – diabulimia is an eating disorder that is relatively common amongst people with diabetes. – Is Diabetes really five different diseases? An extremely interesting look at controversial new ideas about the condition.

You can also watch Prof. Cathy Lloyd talking about her research and the link between depression and diabetes here:


Update: 11th May 2018

Ethics approval has been granted and we can start recruiting! We are recruiting participants for three distinct but interrelated studies:

1 – Focus groups, either online through Adobe Connect or in person on the Walton Hall campus in Milton Keynes

2 – Questionnaire, taken online (approximately 20-25 minutes)

3 – Case Studies. We are looking for one man and one woman to take part in a series of interviews (the number will depend on your availability) about your experience in being diagnosed with and managing either type 2 diabetes or coeliac disease.

If you are interested in hearing more about any of these studies, please contact me at:

Update: 3rd April 2018

We are waiting on ethics approval before we can begin recruiting for our studies. Hopefully this comes through soon – in the meantime, Catherine is working hard on a report for her PhD. Please check back soon, as further details about the studies will be updated here.

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