Adolescents' Experience of 'Adjustment' to Life with Diabetes: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
Aim: A wealth of quantitative literature exists exploring the adjustment of children and young people with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus. However, results are often confusing and contradictory, at least partly due to studies using different definitions and measures. Studies have been criticised for over relying on parental reports and failing to consider young people’s own perceptions. Furthermore, they have often conceptualised adjustment as an outcome, rather than exploring the process involved. Additionally, although peers are considered to play an important role in young people’s lives, their role in young people’s adjustment to living with diabetes has rarely been examined. To address this gap, this study attempted to gain a rich understanding of young people’s experiences of adjusting to life with diabetes and explore how they feel their peers have contributed to this process, with the hope of informing clinical practice and improving support to young people and their families. Method: A qualitative approach was chosen and six young females aged 12 – 15 with a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse the transcripts. Results: Five main themes emerged from participants’ accounts: Developing a balanced relationship with diabetes; the uncomfortable position of difference; grappling with the fall out of diabetes; making diabetes more bearable; and the role of parents and friends. The findings are discussed in relation to the relevant literature. Clinical implications, methodological limitations and directions for future research are presented. Conclusions: This study provided an insight into the complex and dynamic process of young people’s adjustment to life with Type 1 diabetes. It highlighted the challenges and struggles they faced as a result of their diagnosis and the different strategies they employed to manage these. It also emphasised the valuable role both parents and friends provide in supporting young people with their illness.