Healthcare routines of university students with Type 1 diabetes

Authors


M. Balfe: e-mail: mylesbalfe@rcsi.ie

Abstract

Title. Healthcare routines of university students with Type 1 diabetes.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study examining the benefits that university students with Type 1 diabetes associate with diabetes self-care routines, and the barriers that they experience in enacting self-care routines in the university environment.

Background.  Many young adults with Type 1 diabetes attend university, and it is thought that these students might experience difficulties with their self-care routines while they are there.

Method.  A qualitative method was chosen to explore students’ own perspectives. Seventeen students with diabetes were interviewed twice, and each kept a research diary for a 2-week period. Interviews and diaries were analyzed using standard qualitative techniques. The study was conducted in 2004–2005.

Findings.  Routines had a number of identity-producing benefits for students. However, students often experienced difficulties routinizing their self-care practices at university. These difficulties stemmed both from the irregular nature of university life and from students’ desires not to let their diabetes interfere with their student lives. Most participants learned to adjust to university and enact self-care routines, although they could still experience routine difficulties during times of transition and stress.

Conclusion.  Healthcare professionals need to be aware of the difficulties that university students with Type 1 diabetes experience with their self-care routines. This awareness needs to encompass older students in the second, third and fourth years of their undergraduate degrees and postgraduate students as well as students in their first year at university.

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