The lived experiences and psychosocial needs of carers of people with type 2 diabetes

Turner, Anne (2024). The lived experiences and psychosocial needs of carers of people with type 2 diabetes. PhD thesis The Open University.



Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a global health problem where ineffective management causes poor health outcomes. People living with T2D and their unpaid carers experience diabetes distress, anxiety, and depression. The literature about these carers’ lived experiences and psychosocial needs is relatively under-developed. This research aimed to explore these lived experiences and thus reveal the psychosocial needs of carers of people with T2D, equally between female and male carers. Qualitative phenomenological research was undertaken using ten semi-structured interviews guided by an interview schedule. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Carer stress over-arched all three major emergent themes. The first theme concerned the personal impact T2D had on carer self-identity, fears of future erosion of self-identity and anxieties about escalating burdens of care due to diabetes complications. Secondly (theme two), the interface between T2D and established dyadic relationships found different relationship dynamics, levels of acceptance and avoidance of the diagnosis and carer behaviours around lifestyle change. The third theme exposed carers’ psychosocial needs for therapeutic discussions, stress reduction, protecting the future and maintaining positive thinking. The thesis concluded that when caring for someone with T2D carers frequently experience stress, which they manage through the use of a diverse range of strategies. Their stress was associated with changes in self-identity, escalating burdens of care and dyadic conflict especially over the perceived need for dietary change. Potential future research includes how role change affects carer identity, how readiness for lifestyle changes influences dyadic conflict and how to enhance carer engagement in structured education and prevention programmes. Further research could examine what meaningful carer-professional encounters look like and how carers define and mitigate stress. There is opportunity for research to inform policy development that practically helps to reduce carer stress thus supporting them better.

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