Living with Diabetes:Normalizing the Process of Managing Diabetes
AbstractPurpose The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore perceptions of people with diabetes about their experience of living with and managing their diabetes. Methods This study was part of a larger study of patients with diabetes who used a novel computer portal system for access to information about diabetes and to their health care providers for enhanced communication. The research method used for this portion of the study was grounded theory methodology, a particular kind of qualitative research method. Results A central theme generated from the data was “normalizing an identity as a person with diabetes.” The participants described themselves as diabetic; they took on an identity in which having diabetes was central. They struggled with how to become “a person with diabetes” rather than a “diabetic person.” Conclusions For people who are diagnosed with diabetes, there is a struggle to become a person with diabetes rather than a diabetic person and to manage the lifestyle changes that are mandated by this role/identity. One way of dealing or coping with this new identity is to begin to “normalize” these lifestyle changes—to view them as healthy living for all people, those with and without diabetes. This will then have implications for interventions—encouraging healthy lifestyles among people with diabetes rather than emphasizing that people with diabetes are “different from” the general population.