Experience of hypoglycemia among insulin dependent diabetics and its impact on the family

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35 Scopus citations


This study explores the biographical disruption that occurs as a result of a hypoglycemic episode (or insulin reaction) among people with insulin dependent diabetes. It focuses on the process of biographical reconstruction that sufferers and their spouses go through, while striving to maintain a positive self-worth in the 'world of health'. This paper is a qualitative study of twenty-three people with diabetes in the stable phase of the illness and their spouses. The findings indicate that hypoglycemia has profound effects on the lives of people with diabetes and their families. It calls forth a renegotiation of the personal and social identities of the sufferer. The intensity, unpredictability, and risk of physical harm of an insulin reaction, all contribute to the complexity of the illness experience. Management of an insulin reaction involves an ongoing discourse between patients and their physical states, their partners, the medical professionals, and the social and ideological constraints, within a social and cultural context. The need for health professionals to adopt a more holistic approach giving due considerations to the everyday behavioural and emotional demands of hypoglycemia is underscored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-296
Number of pages16
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1997


  • Biography
  • Diabetes
  • Discrediting
  • Family
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Illness
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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