Family Medicine Publications

Living with hypoglycemia: An exploration of patients' emotions: Qualitative findings from the InHypo-DM study, Canada

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Diabetes Spectrum





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Hypoglycemia is one of the most common adverse events for people living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. To gain a deeper understanding of patients' emotions regarding hypoglycemia, we conducted a descriptive qualitative study. Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants for a 30-to 45-minute semistructured interview. The 16 participants included both women and men with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, with a mean age of 53 years and mean time since diagnosis of 21 years. All participants had experienced more than one hypoglycemia event in the past year, ranging from nonsevere to severe. Data collection and analysis occurred in an iterative manner. Individual and team analyses of interviews were conducted to identify overarching themes and sub-themes. Thematic analysis revealed the unique interconnection among the emotions experienced by participants, including fear, anxiety, frustration, confidence, and hope. Time, experience, and reflection helped to build participants' confidence in their ability to manage a hypoglycemia event. Patients' emotions regarding hypoglycemia provide valuable insights into life with diabetes. Although hypoglycemia continues to evoke feelings of fear and anxiety, the role of hope may temper these emotions. Understanding the complex interplay of emotions concerning hypoglycemia can guide health care providers in improving clinical practice and promoting patient-centered interventions. Ultimately, health care providers can build patients' hypoglycemia-related confidence by using a strengths-based approach.

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