The narrative-autobiographical approach in the group education of adolescents with diabetes: a qualitative research on its effects

Patient Educ Couns. 2010 Jul;80(1):56-63. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2009.10.020. Epub 2009 Dec 31.


Objective: To introduce a narrative-autobiographical approach in the care and education of adolescents with type-1 diabetes and observe the effects of this novel approach on adolescents' self-awareness, concern for self-care, and well-being.

Methods: Ninety-four adolescents with type-1 diabetes attending one 9-day summer camp in 2004, 2005, or 2006 participated in structured daily self-writing proposals on diabetes, integrated with daily interactive self-management education. After some months, we sent participants interview-like questionnaires, and two independent researchers performed a qualitative analysis of the 50 answers that were mailed back.

Results: Writing about the discovery of diabetes was, for many, a stressful experience, but with a strong liberating effect. One relevant point was change, which occurred: (a) in the perception of self; (b) in the relationship with others; (c) in the relationship with the disease.

Conclusions: The integration of autobiography in diabetes camps, by adding the value of sharing individual stories to the liberating power of self-writing, can allow the adolescents to overcome their feelings of diversity, and can initiate several changes reflecting increased self-efficacy, maturity, acceptance of the disease and responsibility in self-management.

Practice implications: Self-writing is feasible and well accepted, and provides healthcare professionals a proper way to patient-centered care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autobiographies as Topic
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Narration*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Care
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Writing