Getting one's thoughts straight: A dialogical analysis of women's accounts of poorly controlled type 2 diabetes

Timothy Gomersall, Anna Madill, Lucinda K.M. Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterised by chronically elevated blood glucose and a high risk of cardiovascular and other complications. Self-management is central to diabetes care and includes taking regular exercise, low-fat/sugar diet and blood glucose monitoring. However, little is understood about how people with diabetes make sense of self-management. Our aim, therefore, is to explore the process of 'getting one's thoughts straight' in relation to illness self-management for women with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. Eight women were recruited from two hospitals in the North of England. Each was interviewed using a biographic-narrative method. Narratives were analysed using a dialogical approach. We use Bakhtin's concepts of voice, official and unofficial truth, and internally persuasive discourse to explore how participants considered, struggled with, and, sometimes, acted upon self-management. We demonstrate how the truth by which participants lived shifted as they encountered new perspectives and experiences. The accounts revealed tension between official, authoritative voices, typically concerned with optimal illness control and unofficial voices that speak at a lived, embodied level. In conclusion, we suggest moving beyond the notion of self-management towards a conceptualisation of life with chronic illness that includes personal goals, values and embodied experience in context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-393
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


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