Rachael Hughson-Gill is a PhD researcher aligned with D4D and studying at Coventry University. Here she shares her research focused on the co-design of self-management support with, and for, young women with Type 1 Diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is a demanding and challenging chronic condition that requires constant self-management. This can be difficult for young women as condition management is intertwined within the complexities, turbulence and social intensity of day-to-day young adult life. The unique challenges for young women, make this an age group with the need for a targeted intervention.

As part of the co-design process, Rachael has recently completed a creative and novel study employing the Photovoice method. Over the course of a week, five young women with Type 1 Diabetes took and narrated photographs illustrating and exploring their management of the condition. The group then came together to discuss and explore these photos and what they represent, uncovering themes of barriers and facilitators. Through this method, participants are given power and agency to communicate what they feel is important, and to capture it within their day-to-day life; creating an understanding that is intrinsically reflective of and embedded within their lived experiences.

The photographs and written narration were co-curated with the group into a public exhibition shown in Coventry from July 12th to 18th 2022. Themes displayed in the exhibition offered an emotive window into the lived experiences of young women, allowing the audience to sit alongside the rhythms of their lives, empathize, see and understand the barriers and facilitators to managing this challenging chronic health condition. The work has also recently been presented at NIHR CYPTech Child Health Technology Conference 2022 and Photovoice World Wide’s 30 Years of Photovoice: past, present, future.

This Photovoice study will go on to form the foundations for the next step of the co-design process. Themes identified will be taken into co-design workshops, over the winter of 2022/23, where the common felt challenges that emerged will be prioritised and further explored. Groups of young women with Type 1 Diabetes and design researchers will creatively and collaboratively generate, develop, prototype and explore ideas for new support products and/or systems to tackle these unique challenges. In a co-design process that aims to develop innovative support intervention with and for young women managing and living with Type 1 Diabetes.

“Working with these young women has been a truly amazing experience, their openness and warmth to me and to one another has been deeply moving and inspirational.” – Rachael Hughson-Gill    @hughson_g