The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the impact of type 1 diabetes (T1D) on the psycho-social well-being of adolescents in a resource-constrained community. Historical and contemporary literature on the psycho-social issues of adolescents with this disease draws attention to the complexity of individual’s experiences in this regard. This study contributes to a context-specific understanding of T1D, by exploring adolescents’ subjective personal, family, school and hospital lived experiences. The relational impact that T1D has on adolescents is further situated in the context of its importance to their psycho-social well-being.
This research study adopted Engel’s Biopsychosocial Model, Systems Theory and Phenomenology for the theoretical framework. The researcher consulted relevant literature relating to diabetes, specific to T1D; the adolescent with T1D, defining adolescence and disease-related adjustment; epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, glycaemic control, management and complications of adolescents with T1D; family centred care for T1D and health related quality of life. A qualitative research approach was applied, guided by an interpretive phenomenological paradigm. Five adolescents, between the ages of 15 and 18 years, described their lived experiences of having T1D during semi-structured interviews. The data was subsequently analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).
Five main themes emerged from the transcripts, each of which is discussed separately as well as in relation to other prevalent literature. The critical investigation of the findings presented in this study revealed divergent aspects to those found in some of the current literature, as well as considerations comparable with earlier research.
The meanings that emerged from these adolescents’ stories revealed complex cognitive, emotional, social and biological distress, all of which highlight the subjective experience of having T1D, the impact thereof, and the multi-faceted stress it has on their psycho-social well-being.