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.
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