Nothing to “Sugarcoat”: Eight Elementary School Teachers’ Perspectives of Promoting Diabetes Self-Care in Their Classrooms

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Cousins, Sean
Diabetes Management , Diabetes Self-Care , Phenomenology , School Health Support Services , Inclusive Education
School-aged children with diabetes face the need to develop self-care skills while at school and in relation to other educational, parental, and health care agents. This thesis offers a qualitative picture of how eight elementary teachers perceived their caregiving role and corresponding experiences relating to the development of self-care in students with diabetes mellitus (DM) in two provinces: Ontario and New Brunswick. Participants were purposefully recruited from a School District in a mid-sized city in New Brunswick (N = 4) and two Boards of Education in a mid-sized Ontario city (N = 4). Eight teachers who had at least previous experience in caring for a student with diabetes at school participated in a 90-minute, one-on-one, in-depth interview. Employing a Husserlian phenomenological research design and using an iteration of inductive, thematic analysis, the main themes arising from the interviews encompassed: roles and responsibilities, communication, inclusionary practices, and coping with care. Educational, parental, and health care agents in relation with students with diabetes encompass a range of roles and responsibilities at school. With the adoption of official duties of care, these care agents must communicate with each other to circulate health information quickly and effectively and to develop health literacy. However, the movements of health information reflect the implicit motivations of care agents to navigate the school environment according to medical, social, and biopsychosocial notions of disability and forms of inclusive education. As a result, care agents of students with diabetes must choose approaches, steps, and strategies in their practice to help students and themselves cope with diabetes care.
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