Patients' readiness to receive psychosocial care during nurse-led routine diabetes consultations in primary care: A mixed methods study

Anneke van Dijk-de Vries*, Loes van Bokhoven, Sabine de Jong, Job F. M. Metsemakers, Peter P. M. Verhaak, Trudy van der Weijden, Jacques Th M. van Eijk

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus face several emotional and social consequences of their chronic illness in their everyday life. Symptoms of distress and depression are prevalent. For providing psychosocial self-management support, nurses in primary care were trained to identify patients with psychosocial problems during routine medically-shaped diabetes consultations. However, detection rates appeared to be strikingly low. Objectives: Our study aimed to examine patients' readiness to discuss psychosocial problems with nurses during diabetes consultations. Design: A mixed methods design was used in which qualitative data collection was followed up by quantitative data collection. Setting: Diabetes care in a regional group of family practices in the south of the Netherlands. Participants: Type 2 diabetes patients with psychosocial problems, determined by a self-administered questionnaire. Methods: First, in-depth interviews (n=12) were conducted about patients' experiences with routine diabetes consultations and their perspective on a biopsychosocial care approach. Based on a qualitative content analysis, a structured questionnaire was designed to further explore the findings among a larger group of patients. This questionnaire was completed by 205 patients. The questionnaire included 14 items measuring patients' agreement with statements about diabetes care and the role of the nurse to focus on patients' emotional and social functioning. Results: The interviews showed that patients view a diabetes consultation primarily as a biomedical check-up, and do not perceive discussion of psychosocial well-being as an integral part of diabetes management. More than 90% of the sample showed a positive attitude towards current diabetes consultations. Patients' intentions and perceived needs regarding a biopsychosocial care approach of the nurse were variable. Younger patients seemed more open to discussing psychosocial problems with the nurse than patients over 65. Patients' openness to discussing psychosocial problems was not significantly (p <0.05) associated with the nurses being trained in the biopsychosocial self-management approach. Conclusion: Patients see primary care nurses primarily as specialists regarding the biomedical management of diabetes. Although patients seemed to support the ideal of integrated care, they did not expect a discussion about psychosocial problems in diabetes consultations. The incorporation of systematic detection of patients with psychosocial problems in diabetes care requires endeavours to make patients acquainted with the new role of the nurse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-64
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Family practices
  • Mixed methods
  • Primary care nursing
  • Psychosocial
  • Self-management

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