Lowers HbA1c
by one per cent
Evidence base
For the NHS
by the NHS


How did it begin?

Following lots of conversations with like-minded Diabetes Experts at a conference in 2003, a collaborative was formed and work started on developing a standardised programme for patients newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, this was then piloted and the DESMOND Newly Diagnosed module was ‘born’!

The Newly Diagnosed module was then put through vigorous trialling in 17 primary care trusts across England in a randomised controlled trial, the gold-standard scientific evaluation in which over 1,000 participants took part. This trial is still one of the largest scientific studies of its kind ever conducted, and the largest global study into education provided at diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. The results of this important research were published in the British Medical Journal in February 2008.

The Foundation module then quickly followed as a similar 6-hour programme to Newly Diagnosed, designed for those with established Type 2 diabetes. These two modules together make up the core of the DESMOND business. For these we offer detailed written curriculums to ensure consistency, no matter where they are delivered. We provide award-winning training for Educators – Educators were traditionally registered Healthcare Professionals, however following a successful trial in the use of lay educators and non-registered Healthcare Professionals we are pleased to offer educator training for all. Once trained, all Educators are mentored through a pathway which we like to call ‘quality development’, providing them with the opportunity to be observed by and receive feedback from members of our national training and assessment team.

We pride ourselves on the high-quality of our resources include our set of patient support materials designed specifically to meet the empowering philosophy that underpins everything that we do. Participants are not ‘taught’ in a formal way, but are rather supported to discover and work out knowledge, and to allow this to inform the goals and plans they make for themselves.

Since the national roll-out of DESMOND Newly-Diagnosed and Foundation we have successfully implemented a range of other modules and toolkits including our 6-hour Let’s Prevent Diabetes programme and Walking Away from Diabetes, a 3-hour programme for those at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.

Our Training and Quality Development Programme for Educators has been recognised in its own right by winning the Skills Development category in the Health Service Journal Awards for 2007.

What makes DESMOND special?

The question is frequently asked as to how the DESMOND modules differs from other structured education, and what makes it so special.

Whilst our curriculums are based on topics that would feature in most diabetes-related materials, all DESMOND modules are unusual in that they have a detailed theoretical and philosophical underpinning.

What is the DESMOND Philosophy?

The DESMOND philosophy informs the whole structure of the patient courses from the choice of topics to the emphasis of the training for Educators, and the style of delivery which focuses firmly on the individual circumstances of the participants.

The DESMOND philosophy recognises that individualising health risks may improve motivation. While it is important not to minimise negative messages of the complications of diabetes or the risk of developing diabetes, these should be followed by an action plan, which allows people to think positively about their control of their own situation.

In all DESMOND modules, individuals are supported to identify their own health risks and then respond by setting personalised goals which are behavioural and specific. Supporting people to be confident self-managers of their condition is essential to achieving these goals.


Feedback from primary care trusts involved has been positive. Healthcare professionals have gained new and transferable skills as Educators, and patients have been full of praise for their experience. The DESMOND Programme has also raised awareness of diabetes issues in GP practices, and in some cases even strengthened links between primary care and specialist diabetes services.