Bouncing forward: families living with a type I diabetic child
Background: Despite the multitude of challenges that families living with a child with diabetes face, they have been found to adapt to such an extent that diabetes is viewed as a manageable condition. This study was concerned with the factors that enable these families to adapt. The internationally acclaimed Resiliency Model of Stress, Adjustment and Adaptation served as the framework to conceptualise the families’ adjustment and adaptation processes.
Methods: The study was triangular in nature, with an exploratory, descriptive approach; non-probability purposive and snowball sampling techniques were employed. Sixteen families participated in the research. A biographical questionnaire, which included an open-ended question, to be completed in written format, was used in conjunction with seven structured
questionnaires to gather relevant data. These seven structured questionnaires were an operationalisation of some of the key concepts and processes of the Resiliency Model. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the biographical information.
Quantitative data were analysed by means of correlation analysis, while qualitative data were analysed by means of content analysis.
Results: Various resilience factors were highlighted, including family time and routines, communication, hardiness, the acceptance of the diabetes, adherence to a treatment regimen, the obtaining of knowledge and skills, and working together as a family unit in managing the diabetes.
Conclusions: Family plays a powerful role both in the treatment of chronic illness and in paediatric practice. This article highlights the central role of family in the management of type I diabetes and provides practitioners with insight into the challenges that families face, as well as the strengths that can be developed to improve their resilience in relation to this chronic illness. The identified variables are valuable, in that they can be used as a map to guide prevention and intervention efforts in helping families live with type I diabetes.
Keywords: Type I diabetes; family resilience; the Resiliency Model of Family Stress, Adjustment and Adaptation; chronic illness management; family adaptation; family challenge