‘The pump was a saviour for me.’Patients' experiences of insulin pump therapy


Correspondence to: Anna Garmo. E-mail: anna.garmo@ltdalarna.se


Background and aim

The present study formed part of a larger study examining the potential long-term effects of glycaemic control and treatment satisfaction in people with Type 1 diabetes mellitus who changed from multiple daily insulin injections to insulin pump therapy. Individuals (n = 46) who made the transition between May 1999 and February 2004 participated. The aim of the study was to describe experiences of the impact of insulin pump therapy in adults with Type 1 diabetes mellitus after > 5 years’ use of an insulin pump.


During spring 2009, 16 of the individuals were interviewed through a narrative approach on the effects of insulin pump therapy on daily life. The interviews were analysed using content analysis.


The overarching theme revealed that insulin pump therapy was experienced as both a shackle and a lifeline. Six sub-themes emerged: subjected vs. empowered; dependent vs. autonomous; vulnerable vs. strengthened; routinized vs. flexible; burdened vs. relieved; and stigmatized vs. normalized.


Users of insulin pump therapy have different views about and experience of having used the technical equipment over years. Both positive and negative views emerged. However, it is difficult to identify any general trends that cover all views and can predict which individuals will be able to manage pump therapy in the best way. Even so, the sub-themes and theme that emerged could be used by physicians and diabetes specialist nurses when counselling and planning educational programmes aimed at supporting self-management among people with insulin pump treatment.