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Gender differences in social support for diabetes self-management: A qualitative study among veterans.

Gray KE, Silvestrini M, Ma EW, Nelson KM, Bastian LA, Voils CI. Gender differences in social support for diabetes self-management: A qualitative study among veterans. Patient education and counseling. 2023 Feb 1; 107:107578.

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OBJECTIVE: Describe the role of social support in veterans'' diabetes self-management and examine gender differences. METHODS: We conducted semi-structured interviews among veterans with diabetes from one Veterans Health Administration Health Care System. Participants described how support persons influenced their diabetes self-management and perspectives on a proposed self-management program incorporating a support person. We used thematic analysis to identify salient themes and examine gender differences. RESULTS: Among 18 women and 18 men, we identified four themes: 1) women felt responsible for their health and the care of others; 2) men shared responsibility for managing their diabetes, with support persons often attempting to correct behaviors (social control); 3) whereas both men and women described receiving instrumental and informational social support, primarily women described emotional support; and 4) some women''s self-management efforts were hindered by support persons. Regarding programs incorporating a support person, some participants endorsed including family/friends and some preferred programs including other individuals with diabetes. CONCLUSIONS: Notable gender differences in social support for self-management were observed, with women assuming responsibility for their diabetes and their family''s needs and experiencing interpersonal barriers. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Gender differences in the role of support persons in diabetes self-management should inform support-based self-management programs.

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