A qualitative interview study of people living with well-controlled Type 1 diabetes

Debbie M Smith, Peter J. Donnelly, John Howe, Terry Mumford, Alan Campbell, Angela Ruddock, Stephanie Tierney, Alison Wearden

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    While many people with Type 1 diabetes find it difficult to achieve recommended blood glucose levels, a minority do achieve good control. Our study was conceived by patient and public (PP) partners and sought to learn about experiences of people living with well-controlled diabetes.

    A collaboration between academic health psychologists and five PP partners with experience of diabetes, who were trained to conduct and analyse semi-structured interviews. Fifteen adults with well-controlled Type 1 diabetes were interviewed about the history of their diabetes and their current self-management practices. Interviews were subjected to inductive thematic analysis.

    Eight sub-themes were arranged into two overarching themes, ‘facing up to diabetes’ and ‘balance leads to freedom’. Participants described a process of acceptance and mastery of diabetes, and talked about how they gained a deeper understanding of bodily processes through trial and error.

    Based on the experiences of people with well-controlled Type 1 diabetes, interventions for people with this condition should encourage acceptance of the diagnosis and increasing confidence to experiment with behaviours (trial and error) to encourage ‘mastery’ of self-management. The research collaboration described here is an example of best practice for future researchers wanting to actively engage PP partners.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)872-887
    Number of pages16
    JournalPsychology and Health
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2018


    • semi-structured interviews
    • well-controlled glucose levels
    • qualitative research
    • patient and public involvement
    • Type 1 diabetes
    • thematic analysis


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