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Partner Perspectives on Life with a Person with Type 1 Diabetes

Nicole Johnson, DrPH, MPH, MA, Stephanie Melton, MPH, MA


Type 1 diabetes affects all aspects of life for both the person with the disease and their loved ones. For partners, negotiating the caregiving role can be challenging.

Objective: Partners of people with type 1 diabetes are positioned to provide crucial support for their significant other, but they may struggle with the caregiving role. The purpose of this study was to determine the challenges and needs of these partners.

Research Design and Methods: In this qualitative study, in-depth interviews were conducted with 19 partners of people with type 1 diabetes. A semi-structured interview guide was used during the interviews. Thematic analysis was conducted using qualitative data management and analysis software.

Results: The analysis of the interviews revealed that partners face numerous challenges in the caregiving of their partner. Partners reported struggling with: (1) emotional strain from fear and distress over diabetes symptoms and complications that results in caregiver burden; (2) determining how to avoid relationship conflict; and (3) knowing how to provide life sustaining care during diabetes medical emergencies.

Conclusions: Partners of people with diabetes would benefit from diabetes education targeting emergency care and the psychosocial impacts of diabetes. This additional education could potentially ease the emotional strains of caregiving.

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