How patients adapt diabetes self-care recommendations in everyday life

Linda M. Hunt, Jacqueline Pugh, Miguel Valenzuela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Our study explored behavioral factors affecting what patients with type 2 diabetes do for self-care and why they do it. The findings were used to develop clinical recommendations to improve intervention strategies. METHODS. Interviewers, using open-ended questions, explored patients' own perceptions and assessments of self-care behaviors. The fifty-one subjects were self-identified Mexican Americans who had type 2 diabetes for at least 6 months, and had no major impairment as a result of this diabetes. Texts of patient interviews were analyzed by building and refining matrixes to display and compare central themes regarding treatment strategies and their contexts. RESULTS. All patients were trying to control their diabetes, but none of them followed recommendations completely. Instead, they adapted self-care behaviors to the exigencies of everyday life. Key factors influencing patients' treatment choices were: (1) the belief in the power of modern medicine; (2) the desire to act and feel 'normal'; (3) the desire to avoid physical symptoms; and (4) limited economic resources. CONCLUSIONS. As patients apply treatment recommendations in the context of their everyday lives, they continually must make many small decisions affecting self-care behavior. The specific contexts of patients' lives, including their economic, educational, and cultural circumstances, determine how the generalized principles of type 2 diabetes management are implemented. Clinical strategies must be responsive to these circumstances in order to enable patients to make appropriate decisions when adapting their self-care behaviors to their own situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-215
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Family Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 1998


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Patient acceptance of health care
  • Poverty
  • Self- care
  • Type 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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