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Supporting young people with type 1 diabetes: experiences from healthcare professionals in Sweden

02 June 2021
18 min read
Volume 2 · Issue 3

Abstract

Background

Healthcare professionals in paediatric care face great demands to provide high-quality acute care and support for young people with long-term illnesses, such as type 1 diabetes. This study aims to describe healthcare professionals' experiences of supporting young people with type 1 diabetes in order to improve care.

Methods

A qualitative research design was used to conduct individual interviews with seven healthcare professionals. The interview transcripts were subjected to inductive qualitative thematic content analysis.

Results

Four themes were identified: strengthening young people's motivation, sharing knowledge for better support, the imbalance between resources and needs and the transition of responsibility to the young person and their family.

Conclusions

Healthcare professionals described motivating young people to improve their metabolic control by using a person-centred approach. Working in a team strengthened cross-professional perspectives, competence and understanding of young people's support needs and developed diabetes care. The transition of responsibility from healthcare to families and young people was important in improving glycemic control. The increased imbalance in resources and support needs in diabetes care must be addressed at a societal level and adapted according to today's needs.

Healthcare professionals in paediatric care are expected to provide high-quality acute care, prevention, health promotion, and support for young people with a wide variety of long-term illnesses, including type 1 diabetes. The standard of care and self-care for type 1 diabetes implies good metabolic control, including knowledge of the goals for blood glucose, self-care regarding administrating insulin by insulin pumps or multiple daily insulin injections, continual glucose monitoring, and knowledge of how to handle an emergency with hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia (American Association of Diabetes Educators, 2018).

In Sweden, approximately 700–800 young people (aged 0–18 years) develop type 1 diabetes each year (Swedish National Diabetes Register, 2019), and each person needs individual adjustments and self care support. Most young people in Sweden stay at a hospital for 1–2 weeks at the onset of type 1 diabetes for stabilisation and to initiate insulin therapy. During this period, every young person follows a self-care education programme that involves the whole family (Mullier, 2012). Good metabolic control is the main goal for education and for all diabetes care, specifically preventing and decreasing long-term complications associated with type 1 diabetes (American Association of Diabetes Educators, 2018).

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