Interventions that help adolescents with type 1 diabetes to “normalise” or accept diabetes as part of their lives could result in better management, a study reports.
Normalising was defined as being able to recognise diabetes as a “part” of the adolescents, but ensuring it was integrated into the background of their day lives.
The aim of Elizabeth Babler, PhD, ARNP, CDE, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, College of Nursing, and C. June Strickland, PhD, RN, of the University of Washingto, College of Nursing in Seattle, was to understand adolescents’ experiences living with diabetes.
They interviewed 11 adolescents aged between 11 and 15, developing a theoretical model about the concept of “normalising”, in which adolescents experience six phases:
“Recognizing life is changing”
“Taking action to prevent a crisis”
“Disclosing to engage support”
“Taking on the burden of care”
“Accepting the ‘new normal’ ”
“Hoping for a normal future”
Researchers observed that the fifth phase proved problematic to reach for adolescents, who suffered obstacles such as not wishing to medicate in front of others and rebellion.
Adolescents became less able to cope with their diabetes upon becoming more independent, with the researchers reporting that the testing of blood glucose levels decreases between late childhood and early adolescence.
They concluded that adolescents struggle with diabetes due to the normal developmental tasks of adolescence, but shifting the priority to normalising life with diabetes is necessary.
“This paradigm on normalising for the adolescent with diabetes is a novel contribution that increased understanding about their experiences during transition to self-care. Designing interventions at multiple levels are more likely to achieve success in normalizing and achieving good glucose control with positive outcomes,” the researchers added.

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