FASS Research Gallery
Department of Psychology
Diabetes affects a very large number of individuals worldwide – it is associated with several serious complications and increased risk of hospitalization and mortality. Patients are routinely seen by diabetes health care professionals yet they have the primary responsibility for day to day management of their condition and treatment including taking medications and following recommendations related to diet, blood glucose monitoring, and exercise. Many patients find treatment challenging and fail to follow recommendations. They may also experience emotional difficulties but these are not addressed in routine care. The study set out to document the needs of patients with diabetes in the local context so as to guide the development of programs of support. The aims were to (a) document quality of life, emotional difficulties, and level of self care in youth and adult patients with diabetes, (b), to examine how these may change over time and across people with different types of diabetes, and (c) to identify factors that can explain these outcomes. We have surveyed a total of 81 adult and 65 adolescent patients with diabetes using a questionnaire.
The study’s findings showed that patients found treatment difficult and had consequently low levels of self care at all assessments. Between 21-45% of patients reported that they only follow treatment recommendations (diet, foot care, blood glucose monitoring) 1-2 days a week. Many expressed doubts as to whether the recommended treatment can help control their diabetes. As such clinical measures showed that more than 50% of respondents (adult or adolescent) had poor disease control which poses a risk for diabetes complications and health deterioration. While on average quality of life was not severely affected, many patients sufferend from distress and anxiety about their diabetes. There was little change over time – indicating that distress does not resolve but persists.
Study findings highlight the need to support patients by addressing misperceptions about treatment and symptoms of distress that can lower motivation to follow treatment and compromise wellbeing.