Family Interactions among African Americans Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of family and friends on the management of persons with diabetes and their willingness to be involved in a culturally tailored program. METHODS: This qualitative study was based within a larger quasi-experimental study that focused on the impact of a culturally tailored group intervention compared with individual standard diabetes education on the outcomes of self-management and glycemic control among rural African Americans with type 2 diabetes. Twenty-one participants were randomly assigned to an individual education group or a culturally tailored intervention group. Family members/peers (n = 6) attended invited group sessions to obtain information about diabetes and family/peer support. The facilitator of the invited group sessions used a guide to help with group discussions. The investigators used an iterative approach to enhance the examination of the responses from the discussion guide, thus identifying recurring themes within the participants' responses. RESULTS: The data revealed that family and friends made a difference in the diabetes management of individuals with diabetes. Although family and friends may have been helpful at times, they also created moments of problems and an environment that made it more difficult to care for diabetes. The data also revealed that diabetes is hard to manage and control. Participants reported that taking medications and being aware of types of foods to keep a well-maintained glucose level were often challenging. CONCLUSIONS: These findings confirm that family and peers greatly influence diabetes management among rural African Americans. The study's results will help health care providers understand the importance of involving family members and friends in the treatment and diabetes management of individuals with type 2 diabetes, particularly within rural African American communities where resources are limited.