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‘Slightly more serious than a cold’: Do patients, nurses and GPs take type 2 diabetes seriously?

  • Sharon Saint Lamont (a1), David L. Whitford (a2) and Ann Crosland (a3)
Abstract

What people know and how people feel about type 2 diabetes will affect demand for early identification of the disease at an asymptomatic stage. This paper reports on the selected findings from a broader study of the attitudes and perceptions of GPs, nurses and patients about screening for type 2 diabetes. Purposive sampling was used to identify several practices across north-east England, and data were collected via semi-structured interviews with GPs, nurses and patients from these practices. Interview transcripts were analysed by drawing on the principles of grounded theory, with the aid of NUD*IST software. This paper focuses upon the perceived seriousness of this condition, and the implications such perceptions may have in practice. Results indicate a marked variation in perceptions of seriousness between health practitioners and patients. This diversity can be explored via three overlapping frameworks identified during the study: medical, political and personal. A medical framework suggests that individuals' perceptions are guided by a medical model. This links the seriousness of type 2 diabetes with concepts of prevention and cure, a need for individual lifestyle change, bias towards younger patients and anticipated use of medication. In short, diabetes is perceived to be more serious as it becomes more medicalized. A political framework views seriousness in terms of national incentives and priorities, a recognized need for a centralized push for early detection and financial inducements. Diabetes detection is not generally thought to be attractive politically compared with systematic cancer screening. A personal framework suggests that perceptions of seriousness are determined by individual attitudes, knowledge and experiences of diabetes. The findings offer important insights into how perceptions of the seriousness of type 2 diabetes may influence detection and management of this disease in primary care.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Dr Sharon Saint Lamont, Centre for Health Services Research, University of Newcastle, 21 Claremont Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
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Primary Health Care Research & Development
  • ISSN: 1463-4236
  • EISSN: 1477-1128
  • URL: /core/journals/primary-health-care-research-and-development
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