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Patient perspectives on peer support for adults with type 1 diabetes: a need for diabetes-specific social capital

Authors Joensen LE, Filges T, Willaing I

Received 29 April 2016

Accepted for publication 14 June 2016

Published 2 August 2016 Volume 2016:10 Pages 1443—1451


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Lene E Joensen,1 Tine Filges,2 Ingrid Willaing1

1Health Promotion Research, Steno Diabetes Center, Gentofte, 2Filges Analysis, Hellerup, Denmark

Aim: To explore the function of peer support from the perspective of adults with type 1 diabetes in Denmark.
Methods: The study population consisted of 20 adults with type 1 diabetes. The sample was diverse in relation to educational background, age, sex, and cohabitation status. Inspired by action research, several methods and perspectives on peer support were explored and tested. Workshops and group and individual interviews were performed. Systematic text condensation was used to analyze data, supplemented with theory-based interpretive analysis.
Results: Adults with type 1 diabetes found peer support highly relevant to reduce a burdensome feeling of diabetes-specific loneliness. Peer support showed potential to create diabetes-specific social capital not only by creating reciprocal social support between peers but also, more importantly, by creating space for genuine trust and a feeling of communality. There was a widespread feeling of the pervasive impact of diabetes on daily life and thus the relevance of discussing all aspects of life. However, participants perceived peer support as particularly relevant in relation to big changes in life, for example, in family life, at work, or through treatment events such as getting an insulin pump.
Conclusion: Peer support programs focusing on creating and establishing diabetes-specific social capital using participatory approaches seem highly relevant among adults with type 1 diabetes. Content, methods, and effects of peer support need further exploration in collaboration with adults with type 1 diabetes.

Keywords: type 1 diabetes mellitus, adult, psychosocial support systems, patient preferences, peer support, diabetes-specific social capital, diabetes-specific loneliness

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