Frans Pouwer, Professor of Medical Psychology, specialised in diabetes, is affiliated to the Research Unit of Steno Diabetes Center Odense (SDCO)
Frans Pouwer, Professor of Medical Psychology, specialised in diabetes, is affiliated to the Research Unit of Steno Diabetes Center Odense (SDCO) in a combined position at respectively Department of Psychology, University of Southern Denmark (since 1 January 2017) and now at SDCO (20 % of his working hours).
Poor glycemic control is a major health risk with regard to long-term diabetes complications such as eye, heart, nerve, -and kidney disorders. Not surprisingly diabetes may accordingly have a negative influence on the mental health of people with diabetes.
"This part time employment of the international acknowledged scientist Frans Pouwer is significant in fulfilling our ambition to do research from a translational perspective on the interplay between psychology and somatic disease – in our case diabetes", states CEO for SDCO Jan Erik Henriksen.
Frans Pouwer’s research is focused on the psychological factors that are related to type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, as well as less common forms of diabetes. Some of the psychological factors can be an important barrier in the management of diabetes. These factors include depression, disturbed sleep, disturbed eating behaviours, fear of self-injecting and self-testing, fear of hypoglycemia, negative appraisals of insulin therapy, or diabetes burn out.
"Managing diabetes is a 24/7self-management task that can be very demanding and complex. We are therefore very happy to be able to collaborate with a strong research profile as Frans Pouwer, who without a doubt will help strengthen the research within the field of diabetes and psychology", says CRO for SDCO Kurt Højlund.
As a young Dutch PhD student in the late 1990’s, Frans Pouwer received his very first training in diabetes at the Steno Diabetes Center in Gentofte. He is therefore incredibly happy to be back in Denmark and to be a part of SDCO, where there is so much diabetes expertise available in different areas.
According to Frans Pouwer, interdisciplinary collaboration is extremely important in the endeavors to increase the quality of diabetes treatment. Despite available effective treatment, psychological problems are often overlooked in busy diabetes clinics – this makes psychologists valuable members of any diabetes team.
"We need to collaborate in science in an interdisciplinary way, this is very, very important! It is also the fun part of doing research", says Frans Pouwer.
To Frans Pouwer, fully in line with the vision of SDCO, the ultimate goal is to improve the quality of diabetes treatment and not the least to ensure that people with diabetes can live their lives in an optimal way and with a better quality of life.
"Results from earlier trials have shown that we can improve diabetes care by asking people with diabetes to complete self-report questionnaires about for example wellbeing and depression, diabetes distress and discuss these and refer them to psychological care if needed. In the future we should make these tests more feasible", concludes Frans Pouwer.