OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of a structured education program on illness beliefs, quality of life and physical activity in people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. METHODS: Individuals attending a diabetes education and self-management for ongoing and newly diagnosed (DESMOND) program in 12 Primary Care Trusts completed questionnaire booklets assessing illness beliefs and quality of life at baseline and 3-month follow-up, metabolic control being assessed through assay of HbA1c. RESULTS: Two hundred and thirty-six individuals attended the structured self-management education sessions, with 97% and 64% completing baseline and 3-month follow-up questionnaires. At 3 months, individuals were more likely to: understand their diabetes; agree it is a chronic illness; agree it is a serious condition, and that they can affect its course. Individuals achieving a greater reduction in HbA1c over the first 3 months were more likely to agree they could control their diabetes at 3 months (r=0.24; p=0.05), and less likely to agree that diabetes would have a major impact on their day to day life (r=0.35; p=0.006). CONCLUSION: Pilot data indicate the DESMOND program for individuals newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes changes key illness beliefs and that these changes predict quality of life and metabolic control at 3-month follow-up. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Newly diagnosed individuals are open to attending self-management programs and, if the program is theoretically driven, can successfully engage with the true, serious nature of diabetes.