Experiences of adolescents with type 1 diabetes
Yule, Sara Davina
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Type 1 diabetes is a condition which affects the lives of thousands of young people throughout the UK. Existing research has recognised the difficulties that adolescents have in managing their diabetes, and a large amount of research has focused on glycaemic control, and influential factors. This project attempted to establish what is known about young people’s experiences of living with type 1 diabetes, and to further develop this knowledge pertaining particularly to the school environment through qualitative research. Method A systematic review of the literature in relation to young people’s views of their life with type 1 diabetes was conducted and a synthesising thematic analysis was carried out. A qualitative research study was then carried out involving 7 adolescents aged 13-16 years who had a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with the focus being on the young people’s experiences of type 1 diabetes within the school environment. Interview sessions were transcribed and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse the data. Results Five themes emerged from the systematic review. Analysis of the studies led to the emerging themes of: Normal/Different, Control/Management, Relationships, Health– care and Educational experiences. The articles revealed that the experiences of adolescents varied, and were frequently dependent upon the actions of others. Four major themes emerged from the analysis of the research study: Support, Knowledge and Understanding, Standing out, and Adjusting and Accepting. Discussion Systematic review of the articles revealed that the experiences of adolescents varied, and were frequently dependent upon the actions of others. A sense of normalcy was important, and the strict routine and activities of diabetes management impacted upon their ability to achieve it. The support of friends and family was valued, but could at times become overwhelming and educational and health professionals made a difference to their ability to successfully fit diabetes into their lives. The suggestions made by individuals within the studies were generally consistent, and have implications for healthcare providers, friends and families, and schools in relation to facilitating successful diabetic management. Many of the young people taking part in the present research study had encountered negative experiences within the school environment in relation to both peers and staff. However, they described elements of helpful practice and made suggestions for improvements that could be made within school to facilitate a more positive experience.