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SAGE Open Med. 2015 Dec 11;3:2050312115621312. doi: 10.1177/2050312115621312. eCollection 2015.

Women of low socioeconomic status living with diabetes: Becoming adept at handling a disease.

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Department of Care Science, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden; Faculty of Nursing Science, Rangsit University, Pathum Thani, Thailand.
Department of Social Work, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden.
Department of Care Science, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden.
Department of Health and Welfare, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden.



The objective of this study was to explore how Thai women of low socioeconomic status handle their type 2 diabetes.


A qualitative interpretative method was used to study 19 women with type 2 diabetes in a suburban community in Thailand. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews and were analysed using inductive and constructive processes.


Participants' lives underwent many changes between their initial diagnoses and later stages when they became adept at handling diabetes. Two themes emerged, which involved (1) the transition to handling diabetes and (2) the influences of the social environment. The first theme encompassed confronting the disease, reaching a turning point in the process of adaptation and developing expertise in handling diabetes. The second theme involved threats of loss of status and empowerment by families. These findings showed that becoming adept at handling diabetes required significant changes in women's behaviours and required taking advantage of influences from the social environment.


The process of developing expertise in handling diabetes was influenced by both inner and outer factors that required adjustment to learn to live with diabetes. Furthermore, the reductions found in women's social statuses when they become patients in the healthcare system might pose a barrier to women of low socioeconomic status becoming adept at handling diabetes. However, the experiences of empowerment received from the women's families acted as a powerful strategy to strengthen their handling of the disease. To develop accessible and sensitive health care for this population, it is important to pay attention to these findings.


Thai culture; Type 2 diabetes; handling diabetes; low socioeconomic status; qualitative interpretative method; women’s health

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