Background and Aims: Little is known about individual perspectives and challenges faced by elite-level athletes living with type 1 diabetes and where they turn to for advice. Currently, there is no validated tool to assess this. We aimed to generate and pilot test the Diabetes ExErcise Perception (DEEP-1) questionnaire in a group of professional endurance athletes with type 1 diabetes to investigate perceived attitudes and challenges.
Methods: The online questionnaire consists of a range of open and closed questions, focusing on 4 key areas related to diabetes management and exercise: 1) Technology; 2) Sleep and Recovery; 3) Glucose Management; and 4) Nutrition. Sixteen professional cyclists with type 1 diabetes (age 27 ± 4 years; HbA1c 6.8 ± 0.5%) were asked to anonymously complete the questionnaire using SurveyMonkey.com. Data were then analyzed descriptively.
Results: Fifteen participants responded. In this cohort, 90% showed an interest in using technology for improved exercise performance and 89% for glucose management, although 28% felt unaware of newer technologies. Glucose was perceived as being generally well regulated; however, according to the responses, more attention needs to be focused overnight and pre/during exercise. Sleep quality was rated as an important factor affecting exercise performance by 80% of respondents. 93% of participants identified nutrition as an area for improved performance, with 25% reporting a lack of education in this area.
Conclusions: This pilot study highlights the importance of an individualized approach to diabetes management and high-level exercise performance. Future work should validate the DEEP-1 questionnaire in a larger sample size using individuals with a range of physical activity levels. Such a tool may provide a useful and time-efficient means for health care professionals to gain deeper insight into their patients’ attitudes and challenges regarding exercise.
S.N. Scott: None. F.Y. Fontana: None. C.A. Hayes: Other Relationship; Self; Novo Nordisk A/S. P.H. Lagrou: None. T. Zueger: None. P. Southerland: None. C. Stettler: None.