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Health literacy and diabetes management in South Asians in the UK: a mixed methods study

Bibi, Bushra

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Bushra Bibi


This thesis aimed to explore the health literacy needs of South Asians, in particular reference to diabetes management.
This thesis consists of two studies: 1) a survey that examines health literacy levels and 2) study two Photovoice that explore cultural perspective in daily management of diabetes and health literacy needs. In study 1 (N=350), completed a face to face survey using
standardised health literacy and diabetes measures. Findings indicated the majority of participants have limited functional health literacy (61%). Findings also suggest that people with certain characteristics, such as old age, females, low socioeconomic status, and people with limited or no formal education, are at a higher risk of inadequate health literacy.
In the study 2, eleven of the participants from study 1 were recruited for Photovoice project and thematic analysis of participant’s accounts and images indicated three main themes. 1)Illustration of self-management of diabetes in day-to day life, relating to personal lifestyle, capacities and skills to manage different aspects of diabetes in their daily life; 2)NHS access and utility, concerning the use of health care services in the management of diabetes. 3) Quality of life, connected with the impact of diabetes on quality of life. It has been demonstrated from study two that, despite the limited functional health literacy, participants are able to manage their diabetes and use social support in their families, the distributed resources and health literacy skills of their family members to overcome their personal limited functional capacities.

The consideration of health literacy within a particular community’s cultural perspective can have the potential to maximise the assets of that community. In increasing such a level of awareness and contributing towards the evidence of health literacy as an asset approach, made it possible to use the distributed resources of the social networks and can be one strategy to improve health literacy that can reduce the health disparities in the ethnic communities.

Publication Date Oct 1, 2017
Keywords Health literacy, South Asian, diabetes, mixed methods


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