Exploring perceptions of emotional distress among couples living with Type 2 diabetes and diabetes healthcare providers and considering support needs

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Aims: Emotional distress experienced by people with Type 2 diabetes has been studied previously. The perceptions of their partners and the degree of concordance and discordance, has not been previously addressed. The perceptions of HCPs and how these differ from the perceptions and experiences of couples living with Type 2 diabetes about support needs are also explored.

Methods: A purposive sample of people with Type 2 diabetes and partners were recruited through Diabetes UK media outlets and support groups, and HCPs were recruited through hospital and diabetes education teams. Inductive Thematic Analysis was conducted.

Results: Seven people with Type 2 diabetes and six partners took part in separate semi-structured interviews and seven HCPs took part in focus groups. Themes emerged that described unique psychological struggles for people with Type 2 diabetes: ‘sense of restriction’; ‘disempowered’; ‘accepting diabetes’; and for partners: ‘feeling responsible’ and ‘need for greater involvement’. Common themes across people with Type 2 diabetes, partners and HCPs, highlighted diabetes-related stresses: ‘self-care struggles’ and ‘perceived need for appropriate psychological support’. A key theme among HCPs was ‘perceived professional barriers to psychological support’, which captures concerns related to providing emotional support in clinical practice.

Conclusions: People with Type 2 diabetes, partners, and HCPs share a common understanding of the emotional stresses of living with Type 2 diabetes, however also experience diabetes differently depending on their role and responsibilities. All face barriers that need to be considered to ensure that emotional support in diabetes is meaningful and feasible in routine practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDiabetic Medicine
Early online date17 Jun 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 17 Jun 2019



  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Social Support
  • Emotional Adaption
  • Family
  • Health Personnel

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