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Health Care Providers' Emotional Responses to Their Patients' Hypoglycemic Events: Qualitative Findings From the InHypo-DM Study, Canada.

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Diabetes Spectr





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Objective: Hypoglycemia can cause psychological distress in people with diabetes; however, less is understood about the emotional impact of hypoglycemia on their health care providers (HCPs). This article focuses on the experiences and emotions of HCPs caring for patients with diabetes.

Methods: This was a descriptive qualitative study from the InHypo-DM research program. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 20 HCPs from a variety of professions for 30- to 45-minute semi-structured interviews. An iterative analysis was conducted to identify the overarching themes.

Results: Three overarching themes encompassed the responses of participants when their patients experienced hypoglycemia. The first was a sense of professional responsibility, as participants felt they must have failed or inadequately fulfilled their professional duties. The second was a more personal range of emotions such as sadness and guilt. The final theme was how these emotions created a "call to action," prompting participants to identify potential strategies to prevent future hypoglycemic events.

Conclusion: This qualitative study highlights the emotional impact of patients' hypoglycemia on HCPs. Although it may have been expected that HCPs have a strong sense of professional responsibility, it was unexpected that these responses often became personal emotions. To ameliorate the negative impact of these responses on patient care, HCPs should engage in activities that enable them to anticipate and manage their own emotional responses. In addition, strategies to optimize hypoglycemia detection and prevention should be promoted.


Copyright © 2021, American Diabetes Association

Citation of this paper:

Judith Belle Brown, Sonja M. Reichert, Yashoda Valliere, Cecelia McLachlan, Susan Webster-Bogaert, Alexandria Ratzki-Leewing, Bridget L. Ryan, Stewart B. Harris; Health Care Providers’ Emotional Responses to Their Patients’ Hypoglycemic Events: Qualitative Findings From the InHypo-DM Study, Canada. Diabetes Spectr 1 November 2021; 34 (4): 388–393.

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