Introduction Individuals' opinions, believes and experiences with diabetes influence how they implement the regime prescribed for the disease in their daily lives. Very often, the prescribed regime imposes changes and disciplines that are not feasible or do not fit to individual's routines and possibilities, compromising their adherence to self-care behaviours and diabetes control.
Objectives To uncover the explanatory models of diabetes built by patients and to understand how these models relate to their attitudes and thoughts regarding their diabetes regimes.
Methods We conducted two focus groups with patients with diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, in two different health services in the city of Belo Horizonte - Minas Gerais. The number of participants ranged from 4 to 7, two females and five males. The analytical strategy is rooted in the Grounded Theory. Atlas-ti software, version 6,was employed.
Results Five themes emerged from the analysis regarding participants' perceptions: “Diabetes: shock, anger, sadness,” “emotional state and diabetes: cause and effect”, “managing diabetes: a sacrifice”, “diet: the greatest dilemma” and “insulin: ignorance and fear”. It is possible to grasp a bidirectional relationship between emotional disorders and diabetes. Compliance with the prescribed diet is the most challenging aspect of diabetes care and we see great dissatisfaction with the use of insulin, mainly by associating its use with the worsening of the disease and with hypoglycemia.
Conclusion We noticed that participants struggle to integrate self-care activities in their everyday life. How they react to this integration process varies according to their psychological barriers.
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