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To explore differences in self-care behaviour according to demographic and illness characteristics; and relationships among self-care behaviour and demographic and illness characteristics, efficacy expectations and outcome expectations of people with type 2 diabetes in Taiwan.Most people with diabetes do not control their disease appropriately in Taiwan. Enhanced self-efficacy towards managing diseases can be an effective way of improving disease control as proposed by the self-efficacy model which provides a useful framework for understanding adherence to self-care behaviours.The sample comprised 145 patients with type 2 diabetes aged 30 years or more from diabetes outpatient clinics in Taipei. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire for this study. One-way ANOVA, t-tests, Pearson product moment correlation and hierarchical regression were analysed for the study.Significant differences were found: between self-care behaviour and complications (t = −2·52, p < 0·01) and patient education (t = −1·96, p < 0·05). Self-care behaviour was significantly and positively correlated with duration of diabetes (r = 0·36, p < 0·01), efficacy expectations (r = 0·54, p < 0·01) and outcome expectations (r = 0·44, p < 0·01). A total of 39·1% of variance in self-care behaviour can be explained by duration of diabetes, efficacy expectations and outcome expectations.Findings support the use of the self-efficacy model as a framework for understanding adherence to self-care behaviour.Using self-efficacy theory when designing patient education interventions for people with type 2 diabetes will enhance self-management routines and assist in reducing major complications in the future.