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Breaking stigma within us: the role of people with type 1 diabetes in overcoming diabetes-related stigma


This study explored the strategies to overcome type 1 diabetes-related stigma at the individual level in Iran. This paper is part of the findings of an action research study, which was designed in Iran in 2012 to plan and implement a program for overcoming diabetes-related stigma. Participants were 44 people with type 1 diabetes. Unstructured in-depth interviews, focus groups, email, short message service (SMS) and telephone interview was used to extract strategies to overcome the diabetes-related stigma. Due to the qualitative nature of the data in this phase of the action research, data were analyzed using inductive content analysis approach. Findings showed that in the viewpoint of people with diabetes, their behaviors and reactions are important factors in their resistance to diabetes-related stigma, reducing social stigma, and avoiding its harmful effects. They referred to the interconnected strategies as disease acceptance, accepting social stigma, reinforcing spirituality, enhancing self-esteem and self-confidence, effective self-care activities, and forming real and distant groups. Individual interventions are important steps to initiate overcoming diabetes-related stigma, and social activities will not be successful without them. They are much more economical and more practical than social level measures. These findings can help healthcare teams to integrate anti-stigma strategies in their routine care plan to reduce stigma as well as providing diabetes management.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that have no conflict of interest.

Author contribution

MD wrote the research proposal; conducted interviews; read, coded, and analyzed the transcripts; and wrote the manuscript. SA read, coded, and analyzed the transcripts and wrote the manuscript. SP and NSF discussed about data analysis and reviewed/edited the manuscript. MA reviewed/edited the manuscript. All data were accessible for all authors, and they can take responsibility for the accuracy of this report.

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Correspondence to Samereh Abdoli.

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Irani, M.D., Abdoli, S., Parvizy, S. et al. Breaking stigma within us: the role of people with type 1 diabetes in overcoming diabetes-related stigma. Int J Diabetes Dev Ctries 35, 264–270 (2015).

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  • Anti-stigma interventions
  • Diabetes type 1-related stigma
  • Qualitative research
  • Stigma management
  • Iran