Symptoms of Mental Illness and Their Impact on Managing Type 2 Diabetes in Adults

Adriana Cimo, Carolyn S Dewa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives: People with mental illnesses are more likely to experience diabetes-related complications that can reduce life expectancy by 10 to 15 years. Diabetes management and outcomes can be improved when lifestyle interventions addressing healthful eating habits and physical activity use content tailored to the learning needs of individuals or groups. Understanding the challenges that prevent adherence to diabetes recommendations can start to inform the design of tailored diabetes education care. The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the perspectives of clients with mental illnesses and type 2 diabetes with regard to challenges faced when engaging in diabetes self-care behaviours. Methods: Focus groups were held with 17 people who had type 2 diabetes and mental illnesses, including depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. In the groups, participants were asked to share their experiences with diabetes self-care and access to diabetes-education services. Data were transcribed verbatim, assessed for quality and saturation and coded to identify relationships and meanings among identified themes. Results: Participants identified many challenges and unmet needs that created multidimensional and interrelated barriers to care, ultimately resulting in poor diabetes self-care behaviours. Some challenges were psychological in nature and related to emotional states, lifestyles and food habits, perceptions of affordability, health literacy and value of health information. Other challenges included the physical states of health and social environments. Conclusions: Multidimensional diabetes education programs that consider psychological, physical and social challenges are needed to address the needs of people with mental illnesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCanadian Journal of Diabetes
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017


  • Barriers
  • Challenges
  • Diabetes self-management education
  • Mental illness
  • Self-care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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