A Qualitative Exploration of Psychological Flexibility and Adjustment Experiences in Type 2 Diabetes.
Dickson, Sarah Louise
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Intention to publish in a peer-reviewed journal
Objectives: To explore how adjustment to type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) can be understood using psychological (in)flexibility, the theoretical model underlying acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). The specific research questions are: (a) what are participant experiences of adjustment and coping in T2DM? and (b) how can participant experiences be understood in terms of the processes underlying the model of psychological (in)flexibility? Design: This interview study utilised a cross-case qualitative methodology. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 purposively recruited individuals with a diagnosis of T2DM. Interview transcripts were subjected to an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) methodology. Results: Three primary themes were identified from the IPA: (a) ‘Eating myself into diabetes’: Managing the self in relation to perceived diabetes stigma; (b) My other illness is the real problem: diabetes minimised in the context of co-morbid diagnoses; and (c) Knowledge reduces attachment to the patient-role self-story. Conclusion The interpretation of the qualitative data generated suggests that adjustment to a diagnosis of T2DM is a complex process incorporating intra-individual and systemic factors. Whilst psychological flexibility may be a useful model for understanding and supporting adjustment, interventions are required that also address wider systemic issues such as the integration of care, health-related stigma and relationships with health professionals.