The Impact of Illness Centrality on Social Support in Adolescents With Type 1 Diabetes

  • E. Doe
  • M. Dobson
  • S. Allen
  • J. Huber

Abstract

Background: Type 1 diabetes (T1DM) is a lifelong metabolic disorder managed with insulin, diet and exercise. Self-care for adolescents with T1DM does not occur in isolation; a large part of it takes place in a social world. The behaviour of peers can have a significant impact on the adolescent’s self-care and subsequent health outcomes. Therefore, the aim of the study was to qualitatively investigate the impact of diabetes management on peer relationships in adolescence. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 adolescents aged 15-18 with T1DM, recruited through a local outpatient clinic. The interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings: Differences between male and female adolescents were noted in the impact on relationships. Themes such as “being different” and “being a burden” were identified. Females were more comfortable than males to involve and inform friends in relation to their self-care. An influential factor appeared to be “being a burden,” whereby the females felt that their disease restricted what activities their friends were able to engage in. Males often hid their diabetes due to a fear of stigmatisation. Discussion: It is concluded that a social support intervention focusing on the normalisation of diabetes and open discussion about illness management with peers has the potential to improve life with diabetes for both females and males.
Published
2014-12-01
Section
Symposia