AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The aim of the current study was to explore and describe the strategies young women with Type 1 diabetes used to manage transitions in their lives. This paper will describe one aspect of the findings of how women with Type 1 diabetes used the Internet to interact with other people with diabetes and create stability in their lives.
BACKGROUND: Individuals living with diabetes develop a range of different strategies to create stability in their lives and enhance their well-being. Changing social and emotional conditions during life transitions have a major impact on diabetes management. Although the literature indicates that strategies enabling the individuals to cope with transitions are important, they remain under-researched.
DESIGN: Using grounded theory, interviews were conducted with 20 women with Type 1 diabetes. Constant comparative data analysis was used to analyse the data and develop an understanding of how young women with Type 1 diabetes used the Internet to create stability in their lives.
FINDINGS: The findings revealed that the women valued their autonomy and being in control of when and to whom they reveal their diabetic status, especially during life transitions and at times of uncertainty. However, during these times they also required health and social information and interacting with other people. One of the women's main strategies in managing transitions was to use Internet chat lines as a way of obtaining information and communicating with others. This strategy gave women a sense of autonomy, enabled them to maintain their anonymity and interact with other people on their own terms.
CONCLUSIONS: Having meaningful personal interactions, social support and being able to connect with others were fundamental to the women's well being. Most importantly, preserving autonomy and anonymity during such interactions were integral to the way the women with Type 1 diabetes managed life transitions.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Health professionals need to explore and incorporate Internet communication process or anonymous help lines into their practice as a way to assist people manage their diabetes.
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