SOcial MEdia use among young people with Type 1 diabetes and the influence on MEntal wellbeing

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To explore young people with Type 1 diabetes’ experiences of social media and examine the helpful and less helpful aspects of this online world.
This qualitative study involved hosting a series of small, online focus groups on Skype. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to analysis focus group transcripts.
Young people with Type 1 diabetes aged 13-20 years (N=20) and parents/guardians and diabetes healthcare providers (N=9) were recruited via social media and with support from diabetes networks/charities in NI, RoI, and Denmark.
Analysis is ongoing, however, emerging topics from the focus groups encompass both the positive and negative aspects of social media. From the perspectives of young people, helpful aspects of social media include facilitating accessible connection with others living with Type 1 diabetes, in a way that is in their control. Conversely, less helpful aspects of social media centred on the negative impact of insensitive or uninformed diabetes-related content from friends or the general public. Additionally, seeing others posting only positive stories and ‘perfect’ medical results was experienced as demoralizing and generated idealistic expectations. Diabetes healthcare providers and parents shared the perception that social media can support peer connection and provides an empowering platform for young people. However, there was recognition that young people are often reluctant to engage with diabetes-related social media content and are not always comfortable sharing the ‘diabetes dimension’ of their identity online. Diabetes healthcare providers also expressed the need for greater understanding the capabilities of social media to support their young people with diabetes.
While social media has evident potential to support psychosocial wellbeing in young people with Type 1 diabetes, these findings capture important challenges that need to be considered to ensure that young people can navigate online environments in a safe and confident way.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event PSAD Annual Scientific Meeting 2021 -
Duration: 20 Oct 202122 Oct 2021


Conference PSAD Annual Scientific Meeting 2021


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