Experience of knowledge and skills that are essential in self-managing a chronic condition – a focus group study among people with type 2 diabetes

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Abstract

Aims:

The purpose of the study was to gain new knowledge about how people experience participating in diabetes self-management courses with other people with type 2 diabetes and how they perceive this influences their health and ability to self-manage the disease.

Methods:

We conducted five focus groups with 22 people with type 2 diabetes who had participated in a group-based diabetes self-management course. We systematically coded the data and analysed them using Knodel's method.

Findings:

Participants gained more nuanced and specific knowledge by participating in a group setting. They increased their theoretical and practical understanding of how to handle diabetes in everyday life. The diabetes self-management course made the participants more aware of having a disease they had to take more seriously. Learning by being in the situation while guided by professionals was useful. In addition, the participation learned from each other by carrying out real tasks in a context with others struggling with similar treatment demands. They wished more room to perform practical tasks and more independent activity. Further, they suggested to make parts of the course accessible online. Still, it was noted that web-based solutions cannot replace the practical parts or the dialogue between the participants. They expressed both a need and a wish for a refresher course.

Conclusion:

This study underscored that the participants learned through concrete experience, and by trying out practical tasks by becoming part of the diabetes community. They felt safer regarding their own treatment by experiencing a variety of situations in real-life scenarios.

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