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Adolescent girls and boys differed in how they incorporated diabetes into their identities and how they managed the illness

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QUESTION: In what ways do gender and adolescence interact to affect how young people live with and manage diabetes?


Grounded theory.


London, UK.


10 girls and 10 boys who were 15–18 years of age and had had diabetes for >1 year were identified by diabetes specialist nurses (n=15), by a general practitioner (n=1), from a magazine advertisement (n=1), and through snowball sampling (n=3). Most were white and all social classes were represented. The mothers of these 20 adolescents also participated.


Adolescents and their mothers were interviewed separately in their homes. The semistructured conversations were guided by prompts relating to treatment, stigma, and gender issues of living with diabetes. Interviews were taped, transcribed, and coded using a system of open coding to develop conceptual categories.

Main findings

Girls and boys differed in the meanings that diabetes held for them and the degree to which they incorporated diabetes into their identities. Whereas all …

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  • Source of funding: no external funding.

  • For correspondence: Dr C Williams, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, 18 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0NS, UK. Fax +44 (0)20 7612 6400.