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Title page for ETD etd-12042017-115709

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author VanHouten, Courtney Bright
Author's Email Address courtney.vanhouten@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-12042017-115709
Title “I’m The One That Understands What’s Happening To Me”: Sensemaking Narratives of People with Type I Diabetes
Degree Master of Arts
Department Medicine, Health, and Society
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
JuLeigh Petty Committee Co-Chair
Laurie L. Novak Committee Co-Chair
  • illness narratives
  • diabetes
  • sensemaking
Date of Defense 2017-10-24
Availability restricted
While healthcare research has examined how social and emotional factors complicate treatment of chronic disease, practitioners often have few resources to assess and address the impact of non-biological influences on patient care. This is especially problematic in patients with Type-I diabetes as the chronic nature of the condition requires the person with the illness to act as their own health-care provider outside of the physician’s office. It is important for practitioners to understand how patient’s experiences, values, and perceptions shape their health-related activities and how they express their understanding in order to fully engage and assist the person with their own self-care.

Drawing from in-depth interviews with people diagnosed with Type-I diabetes, this paper makes two claims. First, drawing from Narrative theory, this paper demonstrates how participants use narrative storytelling as a medium to communicate their holistic understanding of their illness. Second, this paper uses Sensemaking theory to examine how participants iteratively organize social, emotional, environmental, and experiential elements (including narratives) to construct their understanding.

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