Guyanese expatriate women ask: ‘Is it a touch of sugar?’

Mitchell, Helena Ann; Allan, Helen and Koch, Tina (2020). Guyanese expatriate women ask: ‘Is it a touch of sugar?’. Action Research, 18(4) pp. 433–447.



Eight Guyanese expatriate women, who had been living in and around London for decades, came together driven by a participatory inquiry approach. Do we just have ‘a touch of sugar’ or is diabetes a serious affliction were questions asked. The study’s objective was to find answers to these questions. Three nurse academics, one a Guyanese / English woman herself, researched alongside participants. After several years of storytelling and group discussion (2010-2015), the women recognised that when they connected socially, the practical effect of togetherness was empowerment. Researching with participants fostered new understandings of diabetes and improved self-management of this chronic condition. This was achieved through the collaborative character of the inquiry and as a practical response to the problems women were facing. They continue to engage with each other and are reaching out to the wider UK Guyanese community. They have a strong voice about living well with diabetes and strongly reject the myth that diabetes is only ‘a touch of sugar.’

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