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Psychosoc Med. 2012;9:Doc02. doi: 10.3205/psm000080. Epub 2012 Aug 1.

The importance of social support for people with type 2 diabetes - a qualitative study with general practitioners, practice nurses and patients.

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Department of General Practice and Health Services Research, University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany.



Social support is an important element of family medicine within a primary care setting, delivered by general practitioners and practice nurses in addition to usual clinical care. The aim of the study was to explore general practitioner's, practice nurse's and people with type 2 diabetes' views, experiences and perspectives of the importance of social support in caring for people with type 2 diabetes and their role in providing social support.


Interviews with general practitioners (n=10) and focus groups with practice nurses (n=10) and people with diabetes (n=9). All data were audio-recorded, fully transcribed and thematically analysed using qualitative content analysis by Mayring.


All participants emphasized the importance of the concept of social support and its impacts on well-being of people with type 2 diabetes. Social support is perceived helpful for people with diabetes in order to improve diabetes control and give support for changes in lifestyle habits (physical activity and dietary changes). General practitioners identified a lack of information about facilities in the community like sports or self-help groups. Practice nurses emphasized that they need more training, such as in dietary counselling.


Social support given by general practitioners and practice nurses plays a crucial role for people with type 2 diabetes and is an additional component of social care. However there is a need for an increased awareness by general practitioners and practice nurses about the influence social support could have on the individual's diabetes management.


primary health care; qualitative approach; social support; type 2 diabetes

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