The influence of diabetes distress on digital interventions for diabetes management in vulnerable people with type 2 diabetes: A qualitative study of patient perspectives

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BACKGROUND: Digital interventions for improving diabetes management in Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are used universally. Digital interventions are defined as any intervention accessed and taking input from people with T2DM in the form of a web-based or mobile phone-based app to improve diabetes self-management. However, the current confidence in digital interventions threatens to augment social inequalities in health, also known as the "digital divide". To counteract dissemination of the digital divide, we aimed to assess the potential of a tailored digital intervention for improving diabetes management in vulnerable people with T2DM.

METHODS: A qualitative design using semi-structured in-depth interviews to explore the perspectives of 12 vulnerable people with T2DM. Interviews were analyzed using inductive content analysis. Vulnerability was defined by the presence of one or more comorbidities, one or more lifestyle risk factors, poor diabetes management, low educational level and low health literacy.

RESULTS: The main themes identified were: "Dealing with diabetes distress" characterized by psychological avoidance mechanisms; "Suffering informational confusion" dealing with inconsistent information; "Experiencing digital alienation" dealing with loss of freedom when technology invades the private sphere; and "Missing the human touch" preferring human interaction over digital contact.

CONCLUSION: Vulnerable people with T2DM are unprepared for digital interventions for disease management. Experiencing diabetes distress may be an intermediate mechanism leading to nonadherence to digital interventions and the preference for human interaction in vulnerable people with T2DM. Future interventions could include a designated caregiver and an allocated buddy to provide support and assist uptake of digital interventions for diabetes management.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical and Translational Endocrinology
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017

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  • Journal Article

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