Experiences,psychological challenges and coping strategies of adults living with type 2 diabetes mellitus presenting at UTH in Lusaka

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Mwila, Kunda Faith
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The University of Zambia
There is an observable worldwide trend of rising non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that poses both health and socio-economic threats in the 21st century. This has led to a projection that the number of individuals with Diabetes Mellitus will continue to increase in the years to come. The 2008 Steps report estimates indicate that Zambia may be one of the countries with a high Prevalence of non-communicable diseases in the world. The annual mortality rate per 100,000 people from diabetes mellitus in Zambia has increased by 67.2% since 1990, an average of 2.9% a year. However, the experiences and challenges of adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus and how they are coping with the condition or what coping strategies are available to them remain unknown. The objectives of this study were to explore the experiences, psychosocial challenges and coping strategies of adults living with type 2 diabetes mellitus presenting at UTH in Lusaka. By means of a phenomenological qualitative study, purposive sampling was used to select 28 participants for In-Depth Interviews at UTH’s clinic 5 during clinical visits. The study findings show that despite living healthy lives with diabetes, most of the respondents reported experiencing weaknesses and frequent illness. Complaints ranged from headaches, abdominal pains, hyperglycaemia, heat episodes, etc. A few respondents reported having no psychosocial challenges while most of them expressed feelings of frustration, stress, depression and anger towards their social environment. The results also show that most of the respondents tried coping methods such as food combinations that involve the use of millet meal and vegetables, chewing garlic and pumpkin seeds. Water therapy, prayer, and medicinal herbs were also mentioned as coping mechanisms. Diabetics have a number of physical sicknesses and their psychosocial challenges require professional attention. The coping methods used by the respondents are emotion-focused and not problem focused as listed in Lazarus and Folkman’s model which may serve as a weakness in diabetic management. In addition, social services designed specifically for diabetics are required to help with diabetic challenges, strengthen the patients’ coping efforts and improve their quality of life
Diabetes mellitus--Challenges--Zambia