Background Diabetes presents a multifaceted picture with its rapidly rising prevalence associated with changing demographics and increasing levels of obesity in the developed world. Deaths from diabetes are predicted to rise by 25% over the next 10 years. The enormity of this public health challenge has been recognized the world over, but little attention has been paid to the theoretical frameworks underpinning practical management.
Aim This paper aims to introduce complexity theory and discuss its practical application to diabetes, focusing on a single ‘tool’ to provide an example of how theory can be linked to practice.
Application Critics have questioned the all inclusive nature of complexity seeing it as an intangible concept that fails to offer anything new to health care. However, few have appraised its practical application to a chronic disease that is currently managed using an outdated, linear, reduce and resolve model which fails to address the multiple interacting systems inherent within this condition.
Discussion This article proposes that complexity theory provides an interprofessional perspective for describing and understanding the processes involved, and provides working ‘tools’ for patients, carers and practitioners that capture the reality of managing this chronic disease in modern life.