Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Living with Diabetes: The Value of Everyday Communication
by McGrew, Cat, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2008, 213; 10631171
Abstract (Summary)

The unrelenting demands of diabetes self-care, fluctuating glucose levels and critical glucose events make diabetes salient in the social life of individuals living with diabetes. Thus, everyday talk about diabetes is implicated as a critical site for investigation. This study employed an interpretive communication framework with four components: reasoning about the diabetes future (analyzed through the lens of Problematic Integration), willingness to talk about diabetes or fear of disclosure, diabetes-related, emotional social support, and perceived alignment on conversations about diabetes. Outcomes examined were diabetes distress, diabetes empowerment and life satisfaction. Participants included 175 individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus, located through convenience sampling across physical and virtual communities. The sample was a relatively homogenous group except for age and years with diabetes. Ages ranged from 18 to 73 and years with diabetes ranged from a few months to 68 years. In a triangulated design participants completed open-ended and scaled questions related to a meaningful, recalled conversation with one other person. The analyses controlled for health status and the time elapsed since the conversation. Findings included the conversation topics, which ranged from the everyday self-care regimen to more complex topics of critical diabetes events, complications, psychological burden or relationship issues. Participants displayed four different reasoning types about their diabetes future: complications are possible but risk may be influenced by self-care, complications are inevitable, acceptance of the impossibility of knowing whether complications will arise and a general optimism not oriented to complications as a future. Two forms of reasoning were associated with distress, empowerment and life satisfaction. A hierarchical coding system for perceived alignment was developed; higher alignment was associated with greater empowerment and life satisfaction. Evaluations of the conversation as achieving mutual understanding and being more person-centered were positively associated with empowerment and life satisfaction. Person-centeredness was also negatively associated with distress. Social support predicted greater empowerment and life satisfaction; fear of disclosure predicted greater distress and less empowerment. Overall, findings display the constitutive nature of everyday communication and demonstrate important relationships between communication dimensions and psychosocial diabetes outcomes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kline, Susan
Commitee: Cegala, Donald, Ramirezs, Artemio
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Communication
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Communication
Keywords: Communication, Diabetes, Interpersonal communication, Problematic integration, Talking
Publication Number: 10631171
ISBN: 978-0-355-01453-2
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