The Self-Management of Type 2 Diabetes: changing exercise behaviours for better health
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Health Sciences
New Zealand is currently in the midst of a diabetes epidemic and it has become clear that the increasing prevalence of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are inextricably linked to this escalating health crisis. Extensive research has long made clear that people of all ages can enhance their health by incorporating moderate levels of physical activity as part of their normal daily routine and physical activity is now recognised as a major therapeutic modality for type 2 diabetes. Despite such evidence, most people in the western world do not engage in sufficient regular physical activity and there remains a paucity of evidence that elucidates effective methods of achieving the required behaviour change over time. This study set out to demonstrate meaningful correlations between the psychosocial constructs optimism, exercise self-efficacy, goal-directness, stage of change, anxiety and depression, the biochemical measures HbA1c and BMI and also the behavioural outcomes of general physical activity and physical exercise participation, all within a newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic population. Participants (n=30, newly diagnosed adults with type 2 diabetes; mean age 61.46 years; BMI 31.43 Kg/mÃ‚Â²[range 18.8-50.95 Kg/mÃ‚Â²]) were recruited from attendees of the Christchurch Diabetes Centre's education seminars. The recruitment strategy was designed to search out diabetic patients as near as practicable to the point in time when they first became cognisant of their disease state. A battery of instruments was assembled into a researcher-administered retrospective questionnaire and this was completed with all subjects at baseline and again at six month follow-up. Additional data comprised subject's demographics and selected bio-chemical measures (subject height, weight, and blood Haemoglobin A1c). Descriptive, correlational and qualitative statistics were evaluated. The level of physical activity reported was significantly less than is required to facilitate the biochemical and psychological changes that are generally considered necessary to support optimal health. On average, study participants did not perform their planned physical activity tasks as well as they might have, despite being relatively optimistic and goal-directed at baseline. Many participants clearly indicated an inadequate understanding of exercise modalities and the intensity, duration and frequency of physical activity required to support optimal health. Generally, participants tended to overestimate their physical activity levels. Exercise self-efficacy emerged as an especially important psychological construct, and one that appeared to be among those central to the participants' relationships with physical activity and exercise. The study group demonstrated a relatively high prevalence of low level anxiety and depression, and even at these sub-clinical levels, anxiety and depression were significantly inversely related to optimism, goal-directness, goal-attainment, exercise self-efficacy and stage of change. The study findings illuminate the wide contextual variability among patients who are suffering from the same chronic condition. Further, the implications of conducting detailed pre-assessments of patients' personal characteristics and their psychological profiles, in order to guide intervention tailoring, are also outlined and discussed. Areas for future research are highlighted. In conclusion, meso and macro-level policy implications are discussed, with reference to an array of the broader determinants of health.