Whilst there are many chronic conditions such as; asthma, cancer, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, mental ill health to name a few, this study focused on researching with people living with, type 2 diabetes. Although type 2diabetes has been well researched over the years, particularly from a medical focus, there were, to date, few studies that explored what happens when a person was first diagnosed. It had been observed that when people were diagnosed with diabetes they must dramatically modify their everyday lives, but the way in which these changes take place had not been studied. More importantly, what could be learnt researching with people as they took the results of a chronic condition into their lives had not been studied. The aim of this study was to explore how older women learnt to live with diabetes during the first year post diagnosis. This study was a qualitative study, participatory action research (PAR). The participants of this study were eleven women who were newly diagnosed with diabetes and their family members/friends where agreed. The participants were recruited from the participants of the diabetes classes of the Hunter New England NSW Health. One to one interviews were used over a twelve month period from December 2008 until the April 2010. The participants were also invited to share their learning with each other in the PAR group meetings for six months. Data generation and analysis were guided by Stringer (2000) ‘Look, think and act’ framework and Koch and Kralik’s (2006) storytelling approach. The findings of this study suggested that the women learnt to manage their condition in a multitude of different ways in accordance with their readiness and capacity to learn. Over time, following the initial formal diabetes classes, the women seemed to acquire greater understanding of their condition motivated by curiosity, trial and error, and from their own readings, partners, friends and relatives understandings and to some extent trial and error. During the PAR group meetings the women learnt from each other and Adili, F., Higgins, I. & Koch, T. (2010). Older women and chronic illness: Learning to live with diabetes shared their learning with each other. The women learnt how they could overcome to their feeling post diagnosis, changing their eating and cooking habits, doing more exercise and checking their blood sugar level. Having support from the family/friends was an important factor in the women’s learning process. During the group meetings, the women suggested some reform strategies to the health care professionals to improve the diabetes classes and services for the future people with diabetes. These reform strategies could be such as; providing short diabetes classes, diabetes recap classes, diabetes support group and introducing the suitable books for type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise control. The state of readiness was an important factor during the diabetes learning journey. The women suggested the health are professionals to consider the people’s readiness before starting any training to the people who are newly diagnosed with diabetes.
8th World Congress 2010: Participatory Action Research and Action Learning. Proceedings of the Eighth World Congress 2010: Participatory Action Research and Action Learning: Appreciating Our Complex Pasts, Comprehending Our Complex Presents, Prefiguring Our Possible Futures (Melbourne 6-9 September, 2010)