Carrying on living: the challenges of type 1 diabetes for young adults


  • J. Huber
  • J. Sixsmith
  • C. Fox
  • A. Kilvert
  • G. Hood
  • M. Callender
  • M. Fang


For young persons living with type 1 diabetes, the condition adds to the task of shaping their identity around training, work and social life. We asked: What challenges do young adults face in terms of achieving best possible health and wellbeing when living with diabetes? How do they cope with selfcare and the attendant medical, psychological and social aspects of the condition in their everyday lives. Adults (n=25; 16-24 yrs) took part in in-depth semi structured interviews which focused on the challenges of the living with type 1 diabetes and how diabetes and selfcare of diabetes fits into everyday life, relationships and environmental settings. Interviews lasted between 45-60 minutes, were transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis. In terms of challenges, the young people talked of the difficulties of being defined by diabetes, something they fought against to retain their own sense of self and identity. They felt diabetes subsumed their hopes and presented them with frustrations of enjoying life in the same way as other young people, complicated by real fears about their mortality. The reality of embodied and contextual self care was a constant reminder to them of their difference, their own expertise relating to the condition and to the regulatory and relational influences of their social and environmental contexts. Connecting, sharing and learning from others, alongside taking personal responsibility were coping strategies many of the young people engaged in. In conclusion, living with diabetes is as much about empowerment, relational and environmental influences as it is about medications.





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