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PLoS One. 2019 Jun 5;14(6):e0217771. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217771. eCollection 2019.

Enablers and barriers to effective diabetes self-management: A multi-national investigation.

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College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.
College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.



The study aimed to identify the common gaps in skills and self-efficacy for diabetes self-management and explore other factors which serve as enablers of, and barriers to, achieving optimal diabetes self-management. The information gathered could provide health professionals with valuable insights to achieving better health outcomes with self-management education and support for diabetes patients.


International online survey and telephone interviews were conducted on adults who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The survey inquired about their skills and self-efficacy in diabetes self-management, while the interviews assessed other enablers of, and barriers to, diabetes self-management. Surveys were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Interviews were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.


Survey participants (N = 217) had type 1 diabetes (38.2%) or type 2 diabetes (61.8%), with a mean age of 44.56 SD 11.51 and were from 4 continents (Europe, Australia, Asia, America). Identified gaps in diabetes self-management skills included the ability to: recognize and manage the impact of stress on diabetes, exercise planning to avoid hypoglycemia and interpreting blood glucose pattern levels. Self-efficacy for healthy coping with stress and adjusting medications or food intake to reach ideal blood glucose levels were minimal. Sixteen participants were interviewed. Common enablers of diabetes self-management included: (i) the will to prevent the development of diabetes complications and (ii) the use of technological devices. Issues regarding: (i) frustration due to dynamic and chronic nature of diabetes (ii) financial constraints (iii) unrealistic expectations and (iv) work and environment-related factors limited patients' effective self-management of diabetes.


Educational reinforcement using technological devices such as mobile application has been highlighted as an enabler of diabetes self-management and it could be employed as an intervention to alleviate identified gaps in diabetes self-management. Furthermore, improved approaches that address financial burden, work and environment-related factors as well as diabetes distress are essential for enhancing diabetes self-management.

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Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interest exist.

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