J.G.DE ROZA1, C.W.OOI1, W.E.TANG1, ELYA2, L.J. GOH1, D.D.KURUSAMY1
NHG Polyclinics1, National Healthcare Group HQ2
The challenges of insulin therapy, in particular, the social aspect, are multi-faceted and complex. We explored patients’ perceptions towards the impact of insulin therapy on social activities, social acceptability and the support they received from their social networks.
This was a qualitative study using grounded theory approach. The study took place from September 2019 to January 2021 in two primary care clinics. Maximum variation sampling was used to recruit adult patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus on basal or premixed insulin for at least 6 months. Data was collected using semi-structured in-depth interviews with a topic guide, continued until saturation and transcribed verbatim. Constant comparison method was used to elicit themes.
Twenty-one participants with a wide range of demographic characteristics, diabetes control, insulin therapy duration and adherence levels were recruited. The themes related to social activities, social acceptability and social support respectively that emerged were: perceived social stigma which encompassed privacy concerns, perceived discrimination at workplace and negative reactions from family; impact of insulin therapy on social activities and vice versa; support from family or lack thereof due to preference for self-reliance or fear of being a burden; and support from social network for hypoglycaemia management.
Patients’ perceptions of social acceptability of insulin and its impact on their social lives cause challenges and potentially affect their adherence to insulin. It is essential for healthcare providers to address these perceptions and tap on social networks to provide support in promoting insulin adherence.