Parents of adolescents with type 1 diabetes--their views on information and communication needs and internet use. A qualitative study

PLoS One. 2013 Apr 23;8(4):e62096. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062096. Print 2013.


Background: Little is known about parents' views on the use of online resources for information, education and support regarding childhood type 1 diabetes (T1DM). Considering the rapidly evolving new communication practices, parents' perspectives need to be explored. The main purpose of this paper was to explore parents' perceptions of their information-seeking, Internet use, and social networking online. This applied to their everyday life, including the contexts of T1DM and contact with peers. A second aim was to identify implications for future development of Internet use in this respect.

Methodology/principal findings: Twenty-seven parents of 24 young persons aged 10-17 with T1DM participated in eight focus group interviews during their regular visits to a county hospital. Focus group discussions were video/audio-taped, transcribed and analysed using inductive qualitative content analysis. Self-reported demographic and medical information was also collected. A main theme was Finding things out, including two sub-themes, Trust and Suitability. The latter were key factors affecting parents' perceptions of online resources. Parents' choice of information source was related to the situation, previous experiences and knowledge about sources and, most importantly, the level of trust in the source. A constantly present background theme was Life situation, including two sub-themes, Roles and functions and Emotions and needs. Parents' information-seeking regarding T1DM varied greatly, and was closely associated with their life situation, the adolescents development phases and the disease trajectory.

Conclusions/significance: Health practitioners and system developers need to focus on creating trust and suitability for users' needs. They should understand the children's diverse needs, which depend on their life situation, on the children's development, and on the disease trajectory. To enhance trust in online health information and support services, the participation of local practitioners is crucial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden

Grant support

This study was supported by the Linköping Centre for Life Science Technologies (LIST), Linköping University, Sweden. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.