Examining the young adult diabetic's experience: A closer look at the communicative and organizational aspects of the chronic care model

Kristen Hatten, Purdue University


Diabetes mellitus is an increasingly prevalent health condition in the United States, with 8.3% of the population affected (CDC, 2011), and is occurring with increasing frequency among adults aged 18 to 44 (Hillier & Pedula, 2003). Young adult diabetics are facing transitions that other populations (e.g., the elderly) do not generally face, such as newfound instrumental and functional independence, entering into romantic relationships, attending college, and so forth (Dovey-Pearce, Doherty, & May, 2007). The majority of educational materials and health communication are targeted toward either young children and their parents or toward the elderly rather than toward young adults, and the American Diabetes Association has called for more tailored educational materials for underserved populations, such as young adults with diabetes. Additionally, in examining this population, this project supplements the Chronic Care Model (CCM), a model originally proposed by Wagner (1998) to improve care provided to chronic illness patients. Communication is highlighted as crucial among components of the system in order to achieve optimum healthcare outcomes for patients, but communication is not clearly defined. Therefore, this project utilizes the CCM as a lens to better understand young adults with diabetes and their communication with their providers within a systemic context. Through open-ended interviews with both patients and healthcare providers about each party's perception of their communication, as well as thematic analysis, seven major themes were identified. The results of this project are translated into theoretical and practical implications for the CCM, health communication, patient education, and chronic illness care.




Connaughton, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Communication|Health care management

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