Type 1 Diabetes: Issue Mapping

Post 7 by Lucy Allen

The first mapping exercise we undertook as a group was looking at and categorising different word associations to the topic ‘Obesity and Healthy living’. Working collaboratively we collected a mammoth range of words that covered the entire topic. It was so fascinating to see what words we all wrote and which came to mind in relation to our individual topics we’ve been exploring, enabled us to come up with a diverse range of words.

The many words we came up with as a group:


After writing the antonym of each word on the back, we were then given the opportunity to ready through the words of other groups to choose five words that we felt related strongly to our personal topics.

The chosen words that I felt related most strongly to my area of interest:

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Then bringing out individual words together as a group it was interesting to see that we all had quite a few in common such as ‘motivation’ and ‘support’. As a group we then voted again to draw out the key words from which we could all relate too.

The group’s collection of key words:



The final collection of words that we voted on as a group: 


The next section of the mapping task was my favourite. We were asked to collect the words and make maps based on what type of word it was and what it evoked. The categories we worked with were; emotive, disruptive and factual. It was this section of the mapping that really saw us working as a team and questioning each others decisions. If someone didn’t agree with the categorisation of  a certain word we would have a discussion as a group to decide. Everyone’s opinions were respected and we had some fantastic discussions about word associations and meaning within this field.

Categorising word by Its impact and type:


We next undertook an exercise in ranking our key words on a spectrum of positive to negative. Again the group had differing ideas of where these words should be placed on a spectrum however we were able to discuss this and make an informed decisions. I noticed that our negative vs. positive associations were quite influenced by our individual focus areas. For example, for me and my focus on Type 1 Diabetes, the word ‘drugs’ ranked quite positively on the spectrum as without drugs, Type 1 Diabetics couldn’t survive. In opposition to this, a group member who’s area of focus is sugar consumption, the word ‘drug’ is associated with sugar as a drug and ranked quite negatively on the spectrum. When it came to these conflicts of interest we were able to compromise by thinking about the topic holistically and from a broad sense.



Working on this word mapping with my group I came to understand something that is really vital to my own research and work based on the varied responses and understanding of words from my group members. I realised that even when it comes to medical terms and disease names there are still areas of opinion and perspective. For example, smoking is an easy to define, specific word however people have individual associations with that word and their own opinion as to whether it is negative or positive. This is important to keep in mind when analysing and judging people’s opinions and understanding of Type 1 Diabetes.

Looking at the issue mapping my group completed in class the week I was away it was interesting to explore the process they’d undertaken when mapping the actors. From my understanding the started by brainstorming all the contravercies within the topic of Obesity and Healthy Living before choosing ‘steroids’ as a topic to persue. They then mapped out all actors in this system under the subheadings of value alignment, hierarchies, politics, associations, capacities, issues and challenges

Group Brainstorm of Steroids:

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Group Actor Map of Steroids:

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I’ve noticed that all members of my group have worked in quite unique and specific areas of Obesity and Healthy Living, meaning that the work and mapping we do in class needs to have a broad approach. Not only does this mean we’re all exploring other areas but it gives us a chance to work and map broadly and then take our learnings and apply it to our own more specific topics. It gives me new perspectives to look at my issue from as well as an ever-expanding knowledge of different areas such as steroid use and the impact this has with my own topic of Type 1 Diabetes.

Taking the process and mapping work of my group, my learning’s from this weeks readings as well as my own knowledge,  I sought to create my own actor map on Type 1 Diabetes. For my issue mapping I wanted to focus on the issue of knowledge and people’s lack of understanding of Type 1 Diabetes. From here I could map out this issue space by looking at key actors to form a greater understanding of the issues surrounding Type 1 Diabetes itself. I identified the key actors as being Government, Sufferers, Health Professionals and Wider Society.

Individual Actor Maps:


After creating these individual actor maps I would ideally collate them into a larger issue map to begin drawing relationships and the cause and effect between different actors and their differing values, actions and abilities.

I can however already see in these maps possibilities for action to greater change, particularly in the areas of actor’s values and connections. I think that if all actors could exercise greater empathy and strengthen their connections to other actors there would be a better communication of information, education as well as understanding around the subject of Type 1 Diabetes. As the issue is so complex and involves such a range of actors, it would involve taking action within multiple actors to have a long-lasting impact. In saying this, most disconnections within the issue can be traced back to the Government’s lack of strategy and commitment to the awareness, treatment and education of Type 1 Diabetes. This is a potential point of intervention when thinking about an emergent practice in response to the issue.



Reference List

Rogers. R, Sanchez-Querub. N, Kil. A, C. 2015, ‘Issue Mapping for an Aeging Europe’,  Amsterdam University Press B.V., Amsterdam 

Digital Methods Initiative, C. 2016, ‘Ageing Places: Digital Methodologies for Mapping the Issue of an Ageing Europe’, University of Amsterdam, 2015

Schultz. T, C. 2015, ‘Cognitive Redirective Mapping: Designing Futures That Challenge Anthropocentrism Design and It’s Wild Cards’, Design Ecologies, No. 6

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