“The Insidious Disease” Making Sense of Type 2 Diabetes: An Interpretative Phenomenological Exploration
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a health condition that encompasses numerous changes to an individual’s life, which in turn can adversely impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing. A review of literature stresses self-management to play an important role in mediating T2D outcomes, however self-managing this condition can be a challenge due its chronic nature and its enduring self-care. Yet, research exploring the personal experiences of living with T2D appears to be lacking. Through a novel qualitative method of combining photo-elicitation (PE) in conjunction with interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), this study sets out to explore the lived experiences of individuals living with T2D and, how these individuals make sense of their condition. Individual semi-structured interviews were combined with photo-elicitation on five T2D individuals to explore their perception of living with their diabetes. The interviews were recorded and transcribed and subsequently analysed using IPA, in order to gain an understanding of the subjective experiences of individuals living with T2D. The analysis revealed three key themes, namely: Making Sense of Type 2 Diabetes, Managing Type 2 Diabetes and Social Support. The findings revealed that T2D can significantly affect an individual’s psychological state, as it means coming to terms with medication use, together with lifestyle changes consisting of diet and physical exercise to avoid health complications. However, T2D self-care was found to be difficult to maintain and burdensome. Although the individuals felt that their lives had been changed by the condition, social support was found be an essential aspect in aiding the individual’s adjustment to self-manage T2D and alleviate the psychological impact. This study concludes that T2D is a complex condition to be in control of various self-management behaviours on a day-to-day-basis, which can profoundly affect an individual psychologically, socially and physically. It is hoped that that these findings will better inform and raise awareness of the complexities involved in living with T2D.