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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The meaning of diabetes : children's perspectives Leach, Deborah Ann


This exploratory study was aimed at uncovering diabetic children's beliefs and ideas about diabetes mellitus. Children aged 8 to 12 years were observed at summer camp where they participated in various role playing activities designed to make their beliefs about diabetes explicit. Twelve children were later interviewed at home using a modification of Piaget's clinical method. Analysis of these data was focussed on how children explain diabetes from a phenomenological perspective, and how children interpret medical knowledge about diabetes. The study indicated that children have a good understanding of certain biomedical concepts and illustrated the importance of eliciting the child's explanatory model before introducing clinical explanations. Concepts and principles that were abstract or not discussed with children were poorly assimilated, indicating the need to question them periodically and help them to understand more complex ideas. The explication of children's personal perspectives confirmed previous research indicating the need to consider their feelings about being different and the constraints attached to having diabetes.

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