Understanding information and education gaps among people with type 1 diabetes: a qualitative investigation

Patient Educ Couns. 2011 Apr;83(1):87-91. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2010.04.026. Epub 2010 May 31.


Objective: Many patients with type 1 diabetes struggle to self-manage this chronic disease, often because they have a poor knowledge and understanding of the condition. However, little attention has been paid to examining the reasons for this poor knowledge/understanding. To inform future educational interventions, we explored patients' accounts of the education and information they had received since diagnosis, and the reasons behind gaps in their diabetes knowledge.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 type 1 diabetes patients enrolled on a structured education programme in the UK. Data were analysed using an inductive, thematic approach.

Results: Patients' accounts illustrated a number of knowledge deficits which were influenced by various lifecourse events. Reasons for deficits included: diagnosis at a young age and assumption of decision-making responsibility by parents; lack of engagement with information when feeling well; transitions in care; inconsistency in information provision; and, lack of awareness that knowledge was poor or incomplete.

Conclusion: Patients' knowledge deficits can arise for different reasons, at different points in the lifecourse, and may change over time.

Practice implications: The delivery of individualised education should take account of the origins of patients' knowledge gaps and be provided on a regular and on-going basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comprehension*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult