Introduction: A previous study of beliefs about health and illness in Zimbabweans with diabetes mellitus indicated limited knowledge about diabetes and the body, affecting self-care and health-care seeking behaviour. The aim of this study was to assess the level of diabetes knowledge in Zimbabwean adults with diabetes mellitus, to determine the main gaps in knowledge and identify the socio-demographic and diabetes-related determinants that predict diabetes awareness and self-care practices.
Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study was performed using a standardized self-report Diabetes Knowledge Test questionnaire (DKT) of 58 respondents, 32 women and 26 men. Results were analysed with descriptive and analytic statistical methods.
Results: The majority of the respondents scored average knowledge on all three sub-scales: general knowledge, insulin use and total knowledge, with an overall score of 63.1 ± 14, 2%. Major knowledge gaps were in areas related to diet, insulin use and glycaemic control. No significant differences in mean scores were detected in the diabetes knowledge sub-scales when comparisons were made of mean knowledge scores in relation to socio-demographic and diabetes-related characteristics. However, diabetes-related complications were significantly associated with lower total and general diabetes knowledge, and female gender was an independent determinant of low general knowledge.
Conclusion: Knowledge gaps were evident in areas regarding insulin use, diet and glycaemic control. Low diabetes knowledge was associated with female gender and could be a risk factor for development of diabetes-related complications. Knowledge gaps need to be addressed in diabetes education to prevent development of diabetes-related complications.
Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; Zimbabwe; descriptive cross-sectional study; determinants; diabetes education; diabetes knowledge; self-report questionnaire.