Experiences of Self-Management Among Young Women Living with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
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Introduction: Women possess characteristics and experiences unique and different from men. Menstruation, pregnancy, puberty and menopause may present challenges for self-management, a prerequisite for those living with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). The meaning and experiences of self-management have not been adequately explored from a young woman’s perspective within the diabetes literature. Purpose of the Study: Blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) values are keys for determining success in self-management among individuals living with T1DM; however, the values may enable feelings of vulnerability and worthlessness in individuals living with T1DM. Through learning about the experiences of young women, it was hoped that the meaning of self-management would be uncovered. The research question was: What are the experiences of self-management among young women with Type 1 diabetes mellitus? Methods and Methodology: Descriptive phenomenology was used to uncover the experiences of self-management. Unstructured interviews with nine young women aged 22-30 years were conducted to uncover their lived experience. Data collection and analysis followed the methodical structure outlined by van Manen (1997). Findings: Data analysis revealed five themes, and the essence of participants’ self-management experiences. Identified themes included: 1) elusiveness of control; 2) the dualism of technology; 3) forecasting and establishing routines; 4) dealing with the “ups and downs”; and, 5) interface with the health care team. The essence that emerged from the data was “being in balance”. Conclusions: Self-management encompassed the desire and need to be in balance with one’s life and blood glucose levels. Self-management was something that evolved over time, and grew in complexity as phases progressed; it was something participants were still trying to grasp. Individual attitudes, goals, and self-management strategies dominated participants’ discourse in describing their hope of achieving and sustaining balance in their day-to-day lives.