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Int J Nurs Stud. 2008 Apr;45(4):562-70. Epub 2006 Oct 16.

Teenagers with type 1 diabetes--a phenomenological study of the transition towards autonomy in self-management.

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  • 1Department of Social and Welfare studies, University of Link√∂ping, Sweden.



Becoming autonomous is an important aspect of teenagers' psychosocial development, and this is especially true of teenagers with type 1 diabetes. Previous studies exploring the everyday problems of teenagers with diabetes have focused on adherence to self-care management, how self-determination affects metabolic control, and the perception of social support.


The aim of the study was to elucidate lived experiences, focusing on the transition towards autonomy in diabetes self-management among teenagers with type 1 diabetes.


Data were collected using interviews, and a qualitative phenomenological approach was chosen for the analysis.


Thirty-two teenagers (18 females and 14 males) were interviewed about their individual experiences of self-management of diabetes.


The lived experiences of the transition towards autonomy in self-management were characterized by the over-riding theme "hovering between individual actions and support of others". The findings indicate that individual self-reliance and confirmation of others are helpful in the transition process. Growth through individual self-reliance was viewed as a developmental process of making one's own decisions; psychological maturity enabled increased responsibility and freedom; motivation was related to wellbeing and how well the diabetes could be managed. The theme "confirmation of others" showed that parental encouragement increased the certainty of teenagers' standpoints; peers' acceptance of diabetes facilitated incorporation of daily self-management activities; support from the diabetes team strengthened teenagers' self-esteem.


In striving for autonomy, teenagers needed distance from others, but still to retain the support of others. A stable foundation for self-management includes having the knowledge required to practice diabetes management and handle different situations.

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