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Background: This study researched the perceptions of patients diagnosed with diabetes concerning diabetes-related health communication strategies in the Free State province in South Africa. The prolongation and quality of life of patients diagnosed with diabetes are affected by lifestyle choices. An enabler of risk reduction is health communication which informs, influences and motivates individuals to adopted health-focused lifestyles.
Aim: This study sought to describe the perceptions of patients regarding diabetes-related health communication strategies in the Free State, South Africa.
Setting: This study was carried out in primary health care centres and community health care centres within the Free State province in South Africa.
Methods: A qualitative, descriptive and exploratory research design was used in this study. Thirty-four patients diagnosed with type two diabetes for at least a year were purposively included in this study. Semi-structured interviews in Afrikaans, English, Sotho and Xhosa were conducted. Data analysis was through inductive reasoning and thematic analysis.
Results: The majority of the respondents were older women having been diagnosed with diabetes for more than 5 years, with at least primary school education and of diverse South African ethnicities. The main prompting questions operationalised the term ‘perception’, probing their feelings, experiences and knowledge of health-related communication strategies as presented by a variety of information sources. After recording interviews, data were analysed according to themes, categories and sub-categories.
Conclusions: The study highlights factors that encourage patients to seek help and foster attitudes of compliance. Practical problems regarding the management of diabetes are underlined. The role of family, as well as the patient–caregiver relationship, in the acceptance and management of the disease is revealed. Societal perception of male symptomology is shown. The study offers information to stakeholders and health care workers for continued successful management of diabetes in communities.