Thursday, 7 March 2013

Horizon scanning

Posted by Linda Penn

As I watched the midnight sun skim the lake horizon in Finland, I should have remembered there are ‘no free lunches’. Collating the European Diabetes Prevention Study (EDIPS) data required much effort and was mostly a spare time endeavour for Jaana, Annemieke, and me. Our first tangible reward, to which all co-authors have contributed much thought and substantial quantities of virtual red-ink, is our publication in PLoS ONE.

Midnight sun in Finland

There are three main messages in this paper:

1. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by lifestyle intervention in European countries (including the UK, and not just in Finland - which was already known).

2. Weight loss has a diabetes preventive effect and maintaining weight loss for more than a year has a greater (quite dramatic) preventive effect.

3. Convenient identification of people at high-risk, so that interventions can be offered to the right people, remains unclear (and research is needed).

Drafting, redrafting and re-redrafting this paper was a learning experience and a privilege. As any first author may appreciate, coordinating input from my co-author list of illustrious professors might incur challenges. Since publication I have received several complimentary responses from colleagues - such is the power of social media - and I am satisfied that this paper represents good research. However it is just research. Translation to sustainable service provision remains the goal. Finland has made progress in this direction, but in the UK it is raining costs and cut-backs.

Recent NICE guidance for prevention of type 2 diabetes confirms the need for intensive lifestyle intervention services, and we are currently evaluating a translational feasibility study in Middlesbrough that is based on our EDIPS experience. We also plan further EDIPS publications. We agreed outlines for these during a November meeting in Helsinki. Finland was different in November - no sun, horizontal sleet and frozen snow - but still warm hospitality.

I have the additional bonus of including this paper in my portfolio towards my PhD by publication, which is of course the soft option for a PhD – or perhaps not. I wonder if I can include a Fuse Blog post as supporting documentation?

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