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Living with type 1 diabetes continues to pose a great challenge for the individual. Health professionals continue to develop interventions aiming to improve self-management.Focus groups were conducted to explore the experience of living with type 1 diabetes. Participants were asked to describe what they had found helpful. Interactions with health professionals were described as important and very clear ideas regarding supportive and helpful attitudes were described. Participants described their desire to be seen as an individual and not as ‘another diabetic’. They were resentful of judgemental attitudes from health professionals. They wished to be acknowledged as an expert in the management of their diabetes and the ideal health professional was seen as open and listening. Systems such as clinics where there was a lack of continuity or inconsistent advice were deemed to be unhelpful.There remains a need to continue to improve the relationship between the person with type 1 diabetes and the health professional in all areas where this takes place — outpatient clinics, general practice surgeries and hospital wards. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.