Learning to live with diabetes – integrating an illness or objectifying a disease


Å. Kneck: e-mail: asa.kneck@esh.se


kneck å., klang b. & fagerberg i. (2012) Learning to live with diabetes – integrating an illness or objectifying a disease. Journal of Advanced Nursing68(11), 2486–2495.


Aim.  This paper is a report of a study of illuminating the meaning of ‘learning to live with diabetes’ 3 years after being diagnosed.

Background.  A changed situation, for example, in relation to living with diabetes, raises a need to understand. How time for experience contributes to this learning process for people living with diabetes is not yet well understood. It would therefore seem valuable to ask people, who have had diabetes over a similar length of time, to narrate their experience in relation to daily life situations in order to understand better how learning is established.

Design.  The study has a qualitative design.

Methods.  A life world approach was used, with interviews being conducted with 13 people who had been diagnosed with diabetes 3 years earlier. Data were collected in 2007, and analyses were conducted using a phenomenological-hermeneutic method.

Findings.  How a person experiences the physical body was found to be crucial in the learning process. If the body with its signals is understood it can be a tool for experiencing and understanding the world and oneself. Feeling insecure about one’s own needs, and not trusting or understanding bodily signs, made participants dependent on others to make decisions for them.

Conclusion.  This study showed that duration of illness was ‘not’ of importance for the understanding of living with diabetes. Living with diabetes 3 years after being diagnosed meant to experience both an overall balance in one’s existence and a daily struggle.