University Hospitals and The Diabetes Link Aim to Improve Health Outcomes for Young Adults with Type 1 Diabetes by Developing a Financial Literacy Toolkit 

March 28, 2023



University Hospitals and The Diabetes Link Aim to Improve Health Outcomes for Young Adults with Type 1 Diabetes by Developing a Financial Literacy Toolkit
$2.25 million from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust will fund effort

March 28, 2023, CLEVELAND – Nearly 1.5 million Americans have type 1 diabetes (T1D). This diagnosis can bring many challenges, especially for young adults who may experience instability in their careers and finances, lapses in insurance and care, and the need to navigate what can be a confusing health insurance system with potentially high out-of-pocket costs and risk for hospitalization. Thanks to a generous grant, University Hospitals and The Diabetes Link will develop a financial and health insurance literacy video toolkit to address a crucial gap — with the goal of empowering people with T1D and improving their health outcomes.

The Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust (Helmsley) has awarded $2.25 million over three years to University Hospitals (UH) for the study entitled “Type 1 Diabetes Financial Toolkit for Emerging Adults.” UH will collaborate with The Diabetes Link, a non-profit organization designed for young people with diabetes, providing them with resources, programs, and support.

People with T1D need regular injections of insulin — the hormone that balances blood glucose levels — to survive. The cost of insulin and diabetes devices that are required for self-management are a financial burden for many of the people who cannot live without them. This contributes to the reality that fewer than one-third of people with T1D meet optimal glycemic targets, according to research from the T1D Exchange.

“Young adulthood is a time of instability around work, finances, and health insurance. Individuals with T1D fear their situation may change and they won’t be able to access health insurance and therefore insulin,” said Julia Blanchette, PhD, Principal Investigator of the study; Nurse Scientist; Diabetes Care and Education Specialist at UH; Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. She was also diagnosed with T1D at age 7. “There’s a lack of literature available about how to navigate health insurance and finances, and almost nothing exists specifically to educate young adults with T1D.”

UH and The Diabetes Link will spend three years developing, refining, and testing a T1D financial toolkit in collaboration with a community advisory board that will consist of a series of short videos. The study team will also ensure participation of underserved, publicly insured and racially and ethnically diverse populations in the clinical validation of the toolkit for wide acceptability and utility.  

The end product aims to:

  • Improve health insurance literacy
  • Improve diabetes self-management outcomes (glycemic outcomes)
  • Be easy to use
  • Decrease financial stress
  • Improve readiness to transition to adult diabetes care 
  • Be effective for patients
  • Appeal to a diverse audience

UH and The Diabetes Link are committed to making this toolkit free-of-charge. 

“Young adults should have the freedom to pursue their passions and step into their individuality,” said Christina Roth-Sleeper, Co-Principal Investigator of the study, and Founder and CEO of The Diabetes Link. She has lived with T1D since she was 14 years old. “It is a transformative time in a person’s life. For a person living with a chronic condition like T1D, many of the challenges of young adulthood are further complicated by T1D: from the social pressure to fit in with their peers; to independent management of finances, insurance, and healthcare; to charting a career path. As part of our commitment to empowering young adults with diabetes to thrive, The Diabetes Link is excited to partner with Dr. Blanchette and the UH team to develop the toolkit and deliver it free of charge, in perpetuity, to the community.”  

“We often hear from people with T1D that navigating the system feels overwhelming, regardless of access to resources or insurance status,” said Deniz Dalton, Program Officer at the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “The T1D Financial Toolkit aims to help people at a critical transition period in navigating the need for continuous access to insulin and diabetes devices via micro-videos. Given the reality of the US healthcare system today, we at Helmsley believe increasing health insurance literacy support is crucial to helping people manage T1D.”

The community advisory board will lead content creation for the videos, making certain this intervention includes information that will have a positive impact on young adults with T1D from various backgrounds. The randomized controlled trial (RCT) will run out of four study sites across the United States to ensure its usefulness to a diverse audience. 

“Our toolkit will include information about navigating both government and private insurance and how to get them,” said Dr. Blanchette. “We know diabetes places a greater burden on low-income communities and this toolkit will be geared toward helping these individuals as much as those with private insurance.”

The toolkit will be maintained and updated annually or as necessary in The Diabetes Link’s Resource Hub, where it can be accessed and utilized, free of charge for years into the future.


About University Hospitals / Cleveland, Ohio
Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 21 hospitals (including five joint ventures), more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities, and over 200 physician offices in 16 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system’s flagship quaternary care, academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Oxford University and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. The main campus also includes the UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital, Ohio’s only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, with more than 3,000 active clinical trials and research studies underway. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including “America’s Best Hospitals” from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to 19 Clinical Care Delivery and Research Institutes. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with more than 30,000 employees. Follow UH on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. For more information, visit

About The Diabetes Link

The Diabetes Link is a national 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to building a future where all young adults living with diabetes are equipped and inspired to live confidently and courageously.  We achieve this by providing  access to in person and online peer support;  tailored engagement opportunities, programs and events; and life-stage specific diabetes resources developed by industry experts. Originally founded as the College Diabetes Network, the The Diabetes Link has been recognized as the preeminent organization serving young adults with diabetes, establishing national partnerships with organizations such as ADA, JDRF, and the Association for Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES); also as the leading provider of young adult patient education by healthcare providers and certification boards such as The Certification Board for Diabetes Care and Education (CBDCE).



University Hospitals

Carly Belsterling



The Diabetes Link

Caitlin McGillicuddy



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