Until recently, there was little empirical data regarding the psychological impact of screening for type 2 diabetes. There is now some progress in this area, as evidenced by emerging population based studies reporting on the effects of screening for type 2 diabetes on perceived health status and well-being.
Recent studies from our own and other groups show that the diagnosis type 2 diabetes has no substantial adverse or positive effect on the participants' perceived health status and well-being after notification of the test result. Importantly, screening-detected type 2 diabetes patients beforehand perceive their risk for type 2 diabetes to be low, despite the presence of risk factors, such as obesity, hypertension and a family history, and overall report low levels of diabetes-related symptom distress. Yet, screening-detected type 2 diabetes patients were bothered more by symptoms of hyperglycaemia and fatigue in the first year following diagnosis type 2 diabetes than non-diabetics.
On the basis of research to date, we conclude that screening for type 2 diabetes in the general population has no serious psychological side effects. Whether lack of emotional response to screening, is because of unawareness or indifference, needs further investigation. Future studies should be aiming towards a better understanding of how to raise the awareness and understanding of type 2 diabetes and its risk factors in high-risk individuals, while avoiding or minimizing negative effects, such as emotional distress and denial. The growing number of younger people developing type 2 diabetes warrants further research into labeling effects of an early diagnosis. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.