Diabetes (DM) requires self-care that is demanding and
may cause stress. Social support can buffer effects of stress. No previous
study has been found comparing perceptions of foreign-born persons with DM,
concerning the content of and need for social support with a population of origin.
The aim was to compare the meaning of support and its impact on the life
situation in Swedish- and foreign-born persons
diagnosed with type 2 DM living in Sweden. A purposive sample of 74 persons; 34
foreign- and 40 Swedish-born, aged 32-80 years, diagnosed with type 2 DM, was included. The foreign-born
persons were mostly Middle Eastern and Ex-Yugoslavian refugees. Mixed methods
were used and data were collected by qualitative interviews and quantitative
data collected by the Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire (NSSQ). Studying the
figures measured by NSSQ, no significant differences were found according to
gender but foreign-born men scored lower than Swedish, especially in emotional
support and aid. The main findings showed that respondents, irrespective of
origin, described the meaning of the concept of support mainly as information
support in learning to manage DM. However, foreign-born persons also focused on
medical support with regular follow-ups while Swedes emphasized the need for
emotional support. Foreign- and Swedish-born persons are in general more
similar than dissimilar in describing the meaning, need and impact of support.
Irrespective of origin they want to learn to manage their disease and thus desire
and need regular follow-up and information immediately from being diagnosed.
Further studies are needed as the study is based on a limited sample.