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J Pediatr Nurs. 2003 Feb;18(1):21-9.

Constant vigilance: mothers' work parenting young children with type 1 diabetes.

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Yale University School of Nursing and School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.


Little is known about the experiences of mothers raising young children with type 1 diabetes. The purpose of this study was to describe the day-to-day experiences of mothers (N = 28) raising young children under 4 years of age with type 1 diabetes. Descriptive, naturalistic inquiry principles were used to interview subjects, as well as to manage and analyze the data. The mothers reported using the management behavior of constant vigilance. Their concerns about hypoglycemia and providing competent care reflected the interplay between their fears and profound sense of responsibility for managing the disease. Mothers reported having to learn the management behaviors and to occasionally adjust the day-to-day management when either severe hypoglycemia or developmental milestones occurred. Although mothers initially had feelings of incompetence with the care they provided, with time, they became very skilled. There were also reports of limited access to babysitting, child care, or respite services. The intensity of their constant vigilance associated with their concerns, responsibility, and lack of supports resulted in some mothers having physical and/or emotional problems. The findings of the study highlight the importance of identifying family and/or community resources that may provide mothers with support that could reduce some of the tremendous stress and burden of responsibility experienced after diagnosis of diabetes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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