‘Help, educate, encourage?’: Geographical variations in the provision and utilisation of diabetes education in New Zealand

J. Ross Barnett, Jamie Pearce, Pamela Howes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In New Zealand, as elsewhere, it is argued that a diabetes epidemic is underway. With careful management from individuals and professionals and appropriate levels of education, it is possible to prevent many complications of diabetes. The overall objective of the paper is to evaluate the role and impact of Diabetes New Zealand (DNZ), the key voluntary sector provider of diabetes education and support services, with respect to four criteria: (i) the extent to which DNZ is reaching groups most at risk of diabetes; (ii) the degree to which it has encouraged levels of member involvement; (iii) whether voluntary group provision of education is that most preferred by members; and (iv) the extent to which members see the voluntary sector model as being effective in combating the growth of diabetes. A survey of members of six of the 41 affiliated societies of DNZ suggests that such organisations, although having a high proportion of older members, have generally failed to target more deprived groups. While the societies generally score more positively in encouraging member involvement and being perceived as effective by their members, they do not always utilise the preferred form of educational provision. However, there are significant contextual variations by urban–rural location and according to the organisational structure of the societies. Rural societies and those with decentralised organisational structures generally score highest on the above criteria.

The results pose a problem for DNZ which, like many other voluntary sector organisations, is facing pressures of increased corporatisation and centralisation. We see this as an important challenge that DNZ needs to address if New Zealand is going to better cope with the emerging diabetes epidemic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1328-1343
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006


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