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Subjects’ experiences of a nutrition education programme: a qualitative study of adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus living in a rural resource-limited setting in South Africa

Jane Muchiri
Gerda Gericke
Paul Rheeder


Objective: The objective of the study was to explore the views and experiences of adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus on a nutrition education programme.

Design: Interpretative phenomenological design.

Setting: The setting was two community health centres in Moretele, North West province, South Africa.

Subjects and outcome measures: The study subjects were adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus (n = 41, aged 40–70 years) participating in a nutrition education intervention (one-year randomised controlled trial). The intervention was based on the assessed nutrition education needs of the target group, and included the provision of nutrition education materials. Data were collected at the end of the training intervention (eight weeks) and at the end of the study (12 months). A self-administered, open-ended questionnaire was used at eight weeks (n = 31). Five focus group discussions were conducted at 12 months. A framework thematic analysis technique was employed.

Results: The majority of participants indicated that they enjoyed the nutrition education programme at the two time periods. They were satisfied with its content and delivery. The education materials (pamphlet and fridge or wall poster) were seen as useful for the whole family, and as constant reminders of positive behaviour. Benefits indicated by the participants included a gain in health knowledge and skills, positive dietary changes, and improved health and family support. Participants also recommended the programme to other people with diabetes mellitus. Positive educator characteristics, such as competence, patience, being respectful and approachable, were cited as desirable.

Conclusion: Participant-customised nutrition education can contribute to programme satisfaction, perceived benefits and adherence to the programme. The provision of education materials should form part of such programmes. Facilitators of nutrition education programmes should take responsibility for employing desirable personal attributes as this can enhance client participation.

Keywords: diabetes mellitus, nutrition education programme, qualitative study, rural