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Diabet Med. 2014 Jan;31(1):61-7. doi: 10.1111/dme.12284. Epub 2013 Aug 28.

Developing a hierarchy of needs for Type 1 diabetes.

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Division of International and Humanitarian Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.



The aim of this study was to use the concept of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and apply this to Type 1 diabetes.


Qualitative methods were employed using semi-structured interviews with 101 people from 13 countries. Grounded theory was used for data collection and analysis, with thematic analysis employed to identify the interviewees' needs.


Sixteen needs were identified and links between these were mapped. Aligning these with Maslow's hierarchy allowed for a hierarchy to be developed for Type 1 diabetes with 'Policies', 'Organization of health system', 'Insulin', 'Delivery of insulin', 'Control', 'Healthcare workers' and 'Information and education' at the base, as they were needed for survival. Next came 'Community, family and peers' and changing roles for 'Healthcare workers' in their approach to care and delivering 'Information and education'. This enabled people to learn how to use 'Insulin', 'Delivery of insulin' and 'Control' flexibly. People's 'Experience' and 'Personality' then helped them 'Adapt' and 'Be open' about their diabetes, allowing for 'Acceptance' and viewing 'Diabetes as something positive'.


Despite limitations, this work highlights that some needs are required for survival and others for well-being. Some are tangible as they can be directly provided, whereas others are intangible and cannot be provided directly by the health system. These results might be used for policy and practice in identifying needs that are met within a health system or what needs are lacking for the individual to then implement targeted interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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