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Exmouth man: ‘I’ve taken control’ following participation in research study

Exmouth man: ‘I’ve taken control’ following participation in research study

A key advantage of participating in research studies is that you can receive more time with expert clinicians and information on how to manage your health. David Sparkes, 68, a retired Health and Safety Manager from Exmouth, participated in a pre-diabetes research programme that gave him the information he needed to understand the condition and adopt a more healthy and active lifestyle.

David went to Claremont Medical Practice for a routine appointment which informed him that he was at risk of contracting type 2 diabetes, after hearing the news he agreed to be involved in a study investigating the topic.

David describes his participation in the study: “The pre diabetes research programme organised by Dr Kevin Douglas and his team, involved taking blood samples, then two sessions of two weeks with reviews at the end of each stage. The first session involved wearing small glucose monitoring sensor on each upper arm and a FitBit on the wrist for two weeks. I also took photos with an IPad tablet (provided by the medical centre) of all food and drink (except water) consumed over a period of three days. The FitBit and iPad are then handed back and sent off to the lab for analysis. In the meantime, I was given another monitor pad to wear on the arm which gathers additional data. At the end of the programme and when the results of the study are completed a review with your GP is held at which time a comprehensive explanation is given on the results. I found this very informative.” 

There are over 4.6 million people in the United Kingdom living with diabetes, with over a twelve million people at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the United Kingdom has doubled in twenty years, soon to become the fastest growing health crisis of our generation. There are many studies running across the country and to find one in your area visit the Be Part Of Research website.

Kevin Douglas, GP and the Chief Investigator on the study, had previously taken part in other diabetes monitoring studies and was keen to be more involved and to support leading this study. He said: “The study offers patients lifestyle coaching with access and reference to direct evidence. We wouldn’t be able to offer that without being part of research. It was powerful to talk the result through with the participants.”

One of benefits of research participation is it gives you an opportunity to better understand a condition, as David explains: “It’s amazing because of the amount of detailed information I received. If I wasn’t sure they would find a different way to describe it to me. They took the time to make sure I understood [the study] and explained everything in detail. They made me feel valued but were interested in making sure I was comfortable being involved in the study.”

Armed with expert advice and a greater insight to type 2 diabetes David knew it was time to make changes to his lifestyle.

He continues: “The study reinforced that I need to do something about that and the research team gave me impetus to do more. This made me change and start taking more exercise such as walking and arm and shoulder exercises. I’ve taken control and reduced my weight by being more active and making small changes. I stopped taking sugar in my tea and coffee, I don’t need it. I learnt about eating fruit before a meal rather than after it.”

David and his wife can now often be found on Exmouth esplanade being active and keeping their heart rates up.

David: “My quality of life has improved and it’s given me motivation psychologically. Once you’ve retired it’s easy to not exercise and watch TV or read the newspaper but this has given me a massive amount of motivation to exercise and add a few years to my life.”

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