Are Beliefs about Severity Influenced by Patients’ Fears, Interactions with Clinicians, and Experiences within their Social Networks?

Research Paper Title

Exploring patient perspectives of prediabetes and diabetes severity: a qualitative study.


This qualitative study sought to identify and describe patients’ variant perceptions of disease severity after receiving a type 2 diabetes (T2DM) or prediabetes (preDM) diagnosis.


The researchers interviewed 29 patients from two US medical centers to ascertain perceptions of severity. They used the constant comparative method from a grounded theory approach to identify themes from patients’ perspectives that inform their disease severity. This approach was used to help translate research to practice and ultimately identify intervention strategies informed by authentic experiences of preDM and T2DM patients.


Perceptions of disease severity fell into two groups: high and low severity.

Patients diagnosed with T2DM and preDM emerged in both groups and were comparative in terms of sample size, gender, and ethnic diversity. Several factors contributed to patients’ beliefs, including what they were told about the disease, observations from experiences within their own social network, and information from formal diabetes classes and their own research.

The two perspectives diverged when patients described how their belief was informed by three thematic properties or personal factors:

  1. Fears;
  2. Clinician communication; and
  3. Social comparisons.


Beliefs about severity are influenced by patients’ fears, interactions with clinicians, and experiences within their social networks.

These findings show that when interacting with patients with T2DM or preDM, clinicians should elicit patient perceptions of disease severity so they may then tailor the discussion to address these perceptions and help patients grasp the severity of these conditions.


Seehusen, D.A., Fisher, C.L., Rider, H.A., Seehusen, A.B., Womack, J.J., Jackson, J.T., Crawford, P.F. & Ledford, C.J.W. (2019) Exploring patient perspectives of prediabetes and diabetes severity: a qualitative study. Psychology & Health. 34(11), pp.1314-1327. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2019.1604955. Epub 2019 Apr 23.


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