Digging deeper: the role of qualitative research in behavioral diabetes

Curr Diab Rep. 2011 Dec;11(6):494-502. doi: 10.1007/s11892-011-0226-7.


Qualitative research methodology is more recognized and valued in diabetes behavioral research in recent years. Qualitative methods help clinicians answer questions that quantitative research may not be able to answer, such as exploring patients' motivations, perceptions, and expectations. This paper reviews recent (2005-present) rigorous qualitative studies of children, adolescents, and adult patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes with the aim of answering the following research question: How has qualitative research contributed to our understanding of behavioral diabetes care? We focus on studies exploring patients', health care providers', and families' interpersonal experiences of diabetes as well as patients' psychosocial experiences of diagnosis and treatment, self-care, complications, and cultural factors. After reviewing the research in each area, we conclude by discussing how qualitative research contributes to our increased understanding of behavioral diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology*
  • Family
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Self Care