The associations of illness perception with metabolic control (HbA1c) among type 2 diabetes mellitus patients in a district hospital

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Despite the availability of a wide selection of anti-diabetic treatments, many type 2 DM (T2DM) patients still do not have controlled glucose levels. In addition to pharmacological intervention, patients’ own implicit beliefs about their illness should be targeted for health intervention. Thus, we conducted a quantitative study to evaluate the associations between illness perception (IP) domains and metabolic control (HbA1c) of T2DM patients in Selama Hospital and to identify patients’ perceptions of the causal T2DM factors.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in the outpatient department of Selama Hospital from October to December 2015. A total of 200 T2DM patients were recruited using systematic random sampling. A self-administered validated questionnaire consisting of three sections was used, and the data were analysed using SPSS version 18. The associations between eight IP domains and HbA1c were evaluated via multiple linear regression. P values <0.05 were considered significant.

Key findings

The analysis included data from 200 respondents with a mean age of 57.7 years (SE = 9.8). The majority were women (64.5%) and Malays (86%) with a primary school education (43.5%) and a family history of diabetes (53.5%). The median duration of illness was 5 years (IQR = 7), and the median HbA1c level was 8.15% (IQR = 3.1). The mean score for the eight IP domains was 33.7 (SE = 8.43) out of a total score of 80. Using multiple linear regression, HbA1c was found to be significantly associated with IP domains of identity symptoms at 0.221 (95% CI 0.083–0.358). Moreover, 79.4% of patients ranked diet and eating behaviour as the main factor for T2DM.


The IP domain of identity symptoms was significantly correlated with T2DM metabolic control. By understanding patients’ IP, healthcare providers can focus on behavioural approaches to managing T2DM patients. Steps must be taken to educate patients about the importance of diet control in managing T2DM.

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