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23-09-2019 | Uitgave 1/2020 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 1/2020

‘Diabetes is a gift from god’ a qualitative study coping with diabetes distress by Indonesian outpatients

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 1/2020
Bustanul Arifin, Ari Probandari, Abdul Khairul Rizki Purba, Dyah Aryani Perwitasari, Catharina C. M. Schuiling-Veninga, Jarir Atthobari, Paul F. M. Krabbe, Maarten J. Postma
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More than two-thirds of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in Indonesia encounter medical-related problems connected to routine self-management of medication and the social stigma related to T2DM. The current study aims to explore distress and coping strategies in Indonesian T2DM outpatients in a Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia.


We conducted a qualitative study using two different data collection methods: focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. The guideline of interviews and discussions were developed based on seventeen questions derived from the DDS17 Bahasa Indonesia (a Bahasa Indonesia version of the Diabetes Distress Scale questionnaire), which covered physician distress domain, emotional burden domain, regimen distress domain and interpersonal distress domain.


The majority of the 43 participants were females and aged 50 or older. Our study discovered two main themes: internal and external diabetes distress and coping strategies. Internal diabetes distress consists of disease burden, fatigue due to T2DM, fatigue not due to T2DM, emotional burden (fear, anxiety, etc.) and lack of knowledge. Internal coping strategies comprised spirituality, positive attitude, acceptance and getting more information about T2DM. External diabetes distress was evoked by distress concerning healthcare services, diet, routine medication, monthly blood sugar checks, interpersonal distress (family) and financial concern. External coping strategies included healthcare support, traditional medicine, vigilance, self-management, social and family support and obtaining information about health insurance.


Our study shows that for Indonesian T2DM-patients, spirituality and acceptance are the most common coping mechanisms for reducing DD. Furthermore, our study revealed an overall positive attitude towards dealing with T2DM as well as a need for more information about T2DM and potential coping strategies. Finally, an important finding of ours relates to differences in DD between males and females, potential DD associated with health services provision and the specific challenges faced by housewives with T2DM.

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