Aims: To explore parents' experience of having a child diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, managed at home, and their first year following diagnosis.
Methods: A qualitative, longitudinal study based on 40 in-depth interviews with parents of 20 children with newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes managed at home from diagnosis in South Wales.
Results: Many parents were alarmed by the speed of diagnosis following the gradual progress of their child's symptoms. The provision of timely, adequate information was important to all parents. Although five parents had initial concerns about going home, all parents were subsequently pleased their children had not been hospitalized. Home management enabled parents to integrate diabetes management into the family's normal lifestyle from diagnosis. Professional support, particularly accessible telephone advice, was valued by and reassured parents. Parents experienced a loss of spontaneity, a continuing fear of hypoglycaemia and did not want their child to feel different to other children. Acutely aware of the seriousness of diabetes, they did their utmost to achieve optimal glycaemic control but felt that diabetes could not 'dominate' if they were to lead a 'normal' life.
Conclusions: The experience of parents in this study suggests that parents of children with newly diagnosed diabetes are able to cope successfully when given the opportunity to start treatment at home. Therefore, if children with diabetes are clinically well at diagnosis, this study supports home management as a system of care from the parents' point of view. These findings are relevant to clinicians, policy makers and health service managers involved in planning and providing paediatric diabetes care.