Tailored self-management support for people with type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes in daily life

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The aim of this graduation project was to design a tool that supports type 2 diabetes patients in self-management. Self-management is managing type 2 diabetes in daily life. In order to design a suitable solution, the first step was to get a deeper understanding of the needs and preferences of these patients. Literature was analysed and field research is done in order to get this deeper understanding.

Field study 1 showed the perspectives of patients on ‘self-management’ and what elements it exists of. It showed that patients experience self-management to be ‘diabetes in daily life’. Diabetes is always present and therefore always needs to be managed, that is (new) daily life after diagnosis. Field study 2 showed the elements of self-management from the health professional’s point of view. As well, both field studies looked into how self-management is currently supported, and where support is lacking.
Based on the outcomes of both desk and field research, it is concluded that patients have a need for support in development of knowledge. Information which is needed for development of knowledge is chaotic and the amount, timing and content does not meet their needs.

A design goal was formulated: “Design a tool that provides recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients with tailored information, so the patient will experience support during the understanding phase”.

The tool which is developed is a smartphone application called ‘Deel Diabetes’ (‘Diabetes Sharing’). This application facilitates sharing of experiences from daily life amongst type 2 diabetes patients. This way:
- Newly diagnosed patients have one source of information to consult. It combines factual information about type 2 diabetes from websites of health professionals with tips from peers on how to deal with type 2 diabetes in daily life.
- Peers can support each other and learn from each other’s experiences, so not every individual has to figure out things on his/her own again.
- Health professionals can offer newly diagnosed patients a tool, so the patient can start looking for information at his/her own pace.
- Newly diagnosed patients can read about possibilities and practical solutions for dealing with type 2 diabetes in daily life.

Experienced users of the application, who are thus experienced type 2 diabetes patients, are invited to share tips, tools and answers which could support recently diagnosed patients in learning how to deal with type 2 diabetes. What makes this application unique, is that it is designed to stimulate sharing possibilities and solutions, instead of issues and problems which are nowadays discouraging newly diagnosed people.

Not only recently diagnosed patients can benefit from the tool. Also, people who are diagnosed longer ago still encounter situations they did not experience before since the diagnosis type 2 diabetes. For example, going on a holiday to Asia, or trying out a new sport like running a marathon. Check out how other people with type 2 diabetes dealt with this!