Is it a Touch of Sugar?

In 2010 eight Guyanese expatriate women living with diabetes came together in a participatory action research study.  They and relatives in Guyana had brushed a diagnosis of diabetes aside as just ‘ a touch of sugar’. Interviews with Guyanese women living in London revealed that managing diabetes was a solitary endeavour, often with little guidance from health care professionals. Following diagnosis, they had made no significant changes to their lifestyle or diet.

Being together in the group motivated the women to learn more about their genetic predisposition, self-management of this chronic condition and ways they could improve their health through exercise and healthy eating. The women started to read food labels and took the monitoring of blood sugar levels routinely for the first time. They began to understand that uncontrolled diabetes could have serious health implications. After several years of meeting together in each other’s homes, the women recognised that learning in a group and having a voice was empowering.  

They continue to meet and are reaching out to the wider UK Guyanese community and relatives back ‘home’.  Participants now have a strong voice about living well with diabetes and strongly reject the myth that diabetes is only ‘a touch of sugar’. This study demonstrates how inquiries using PAR principles can and do make a positive difference to managing diabetes.  

Blog post by Helena Ann Mitchell

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