Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Danya Keene


Objective To understand how low-income adults living with type 2 diabetes conceptualize and utilize social support in their diabetes management.

Methods The data for this paper came from a larger qualitative study, conducted by the advisor and last author, exploring the intersection of housing access and diabetes management among 40 low-income adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in New Haven, Connecticut. This qualitative study utilized 58 of the previously collected semi-structured interviews (some participants were interviewed more than once). Excerpts from two broad parent codes from the original study were analyzed using a flexible and iterative coding process.

Results Participants conceptualized diabetes management as a “battle” that is taxing mentally, emotionally and physically. Understanding the magnitude of diabetes management, participants often relied on their social networks for assistance. Social influences greatly aided but, in some instances, hindered diabetes management through three main domains of influence: functional, motivational and emotional.

Conclusion and Implications Diabetes self-management is a lifelong process with life or death implications. The nature of diabetes management can be taxing and burdensome for individuals as it requires both behavioral and medical interventions. Participants detailed how their social support networks mitigated many stressors associated with their chronic disease management via functional, motivational and emotional support. Future research should explore how social support networks can be more routinely incorporated into diabetes management and effectively utilized to promote health and well-being especially for low-income populations.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access