The Science: Diabetes Caregivers Suffer from “You Need to Do More”

‘Exercise as medicine’ is the gold standard in diabetes care, but both healthcare providers and patients find it difficult to implement this doctrine. This is evidenced by doctoral research by medical anthropologist and sociologist Miriam Stueg, who interviewed patients and caregivers on a large scale.

Patients supported the importance of exercise as medicine, but found it difficult to adapt it to their daily lives. Most had negative experiences with care and support related to continuing or (again) exercising or exercising after the diagnosis. They felt invisible and often had little understanding of their struggle in order to move further.

It is impossible to change patients

But the diabetes caregivers interviewed also encountered difficulties. Some felt disappointed and pessimistic. They said it was impossible to change patients’ physical activity. Caregivers who, for example due to an injury or personal circumstances, have had difficulty (continuing) with exercise, and have a greater understanding of patients who have difficulty as well.

Healthcare providers often find it difficult to do this Changing the patient’s movement behavior

On the other hand, others felt that there were factors that could make exercise more difficult (such as lack of financial resources), but at the same time they found that patients could do a low-threshold activity such as walking.

Walking club at leisure

Many diabetes caregivers said they had little time to exercise. Because of the workload and administrative burden, they can only provide advice and not the guidance that the patient really needs. Some started a walking club themselves, partly at their leisure.

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Myriam StuegPhysical Activity in Type 2 Diabetes Care. A critical narrative study. Doctoral thesis, University of Amsterdam, March 2021

Francine Arts

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