Barriers and facilitators to self-care communication during medical appointments in the United States for adults with type 2 diabetes

Chronic Illn. 2014 Dec;10(4):303-13. doi: 10.1177/1742395314525647. Epub 2014 Feb 24.


Objective: Diabetes self-care is challenging and requires effective patient-provider communication to achieve optimal treatment outcomes. This study explored perceptions of barriers and facilitators to diabetes self-care communication during medical appointments.

Design: Qualitative study using in-depth interviews with a semistructured interview guide.

Participants: Thirty-four patients with type 2 diabetes and 19 physicians who treat type 2 diabetes.

Results: Physicians described some patients as reluctant to discuss their self-care behaviors primarily because of fear of being judged, guilt, and shame. Similarly, patients described reluctant communication resulting from fear of being judged and shame, particularly shame surrounding food intake and weight. Physicians and patients recommended trust, nonjudgmental acceptance, open/honest communication, and providing patients hope for living with diabetes as important factors for improving self-care communication. Further, patients stressed the clinical benefits of physicians directly addressing poor self-care behaviors while physicians described having few strategies to address these difficulties.

Conclusions: Physician-patient self-care communication barriers included patients' reluctance to discuss self-care behaviors and physicians' perceptions of few options to address this reluctance. Treatment recommendations stressed the importance of establishing trusting, nonjudgmental and open patient-provider communication for optimal diabetes treatment. Medical education is needed to improve physicians' strategies for addressing self-care communication during medical appointments.

Keywords: Self-care communication; patient–physician relationship; qualitative research; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Communication
  • Communication Barriers*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trust
  • United States