AIM: To describe the patient's experience of family function and its importance in diabetes-related self-management.
BACKGROUND: Many patients fail to reach the targeted glycemic level due to low self-management adherence. Knowledge is needed regarding the impact of family function on diabetes self-management.
DESIGN: A qualitative descriptive design.
METHODS: A purposive sample of 20 patients with type 2 diabetes. Data were collected in March-June 2017 via audio-recorded semi-structured interviews, field notes and Eco-maps. Analysed using thematic framework matrix and thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Four themes were identified: (1) Downplaying disease. The disease was trivialized creating a barrier to family involvement; (2) Second guessing. When diabetes was not discussed, patient and family made their own assumptions; (3) Going it alone. The participants preferred sole disease responsibility to maintain usual family life; (4) No regrets. The participants managed their disease with medications only to maintain family cohesion and 'the good life'.
CONCLUSION: The participants in our study downplayed the consequences of type 2 diabetes and chose to control their disease medically rather than by lifestyle changes. They renounced family involvement to maintain their lifestyle and promote family cohesion.
IMPACT: During clinical check-ups, patients should be encouraged to involve their family in lifestyle changes. Healthcare professionals need to recognize illness- and treatment beliefs and the impact of family function in disease management.