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  • 1 April 2018 to 30 September 2019
  • Project No: 412
  • Funding round: FR 16

Diabetes is a progressive disease defined by high blood sugar levels; it is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, visual problems and kidney disease, which lead to significant illness, work absence, and early death. Being overweight and taking too little exercise increases a person’s chance of developing diabetes, and addressing these with lifestyle programmes can prevent or delay the condition.

In order to offer these, we need to identify those at highest risk. Various ‘diabetes risk scores’ estimate someone’s risk of this condition by combining information such as family history of diabetes, medical conditions, body weight and ethnicity. Risk of diabetes is high in people from certain minority ethnic groups, and in those who are poor. Hence, some parts of the country will have a high proportion (and others a low proportion) of people at high risk. Information on these risk factors is often contained in a person’s electronic health record.

Our study aims to inform the production of maps of diabetes risk across the UK at regional level to inform policymakers and allocate resources by identifying key areas with the most at risk populations. These diabetes risk maps are visually dramatic, highlighting ‘hot spots’ of high risk in deprived multi-ethnic areas and thus providing a talking point for local policymakers and citizens.We have already produced maps of diabetes risk in several London boroughs using data held on GPs’ computer systems (example below). For various reasons (mainly incomplete data), we cannot use GP computer systems to generate regional or national level maps so we would like to see if it is possible to use databases set up for clinical research.