November 25, 2019 – Essentially all patients living with type 1 diabetes experience "diabetes burnout" at some time or other. What is diabetes burnout, what factors contribute to the problem, and what can patients and nurses do about it? Those questions are addressed in a descriptive study in the December issue of the American Journal of Nursing. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.
Diabetes burnout occurs when patients experience exhaustion and detachment, leading to a sense of powerlessness and apathy about performing needed self-care, according to the qualitative research by Samereh Abdoli, PhD, RN, of University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and colleagues. They write, "It's vital that providers ask people with type 1 diabetes about diabetes burnout during regular follow-up visits, especially when there are indications that they're struggling to manage their blood glucose or are facing major life events. "
Patients Share 'Lived Experience' with Diabetes Burnout
While patients and healthcare providers are familiar with the concept of diabetes burnout, there have been no evidence-based definition and no interventions to address the problem. Toward a better understanding of the problem, the researchers performed in-depth interviews with 18 patients with type 1 diabetes.
The patients – 11 women and seven men, average age 38 years – were asked to share their lived experience with diabetes burnout. Seven patients said they were going through diabetes burnout at the time of their interview; all said they had experienced it during the past year.
Based on the interviews, with feedback from patients, the researchers identified four main themes:
The findings have important implications for understanding diabetes burnout, Dr. Abdoli and coauthors believe. They suggest there's a spectrum from a milder "feeling burned out" and a more severe "being burned out," and propose distinct "engaged, exhausted, disengaged, and burned-out" profiles that patients may experience. The researchers conclude: "Providers should encourage people with type 1 diabetes, particularly those who may be burned out, to participate in open and nonjudgmental discussions about their level of exhaustion, the degree to which they're engaged or lacking in self-care, and their options for support."
About American Journal of Nursing
American Journal of Nursing is the most honored broad-based nursing journal in the world. Peer reviewed and evidence-based, it is considered the profession’s premier journal. AJN's mission is to promote excellence in nursing and health care through the dissemination of evidence-based, peer-reviewed clinical information and original research, discussion of relevant and controversial professional issues, adherence to the standards of journalistic integrity and excellence, and promotion of nursing perspectives to the health care community and the public.
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