"It's a whole package" : Type 2 diabetes and what it means for the body, life and self of people of Indian origin in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology (with an endorsement in Health Psychology) at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
Type 2 diabetes represents a considerable health problem for the Indian population group in New Zealand. In order to minimise the risk posed by this disease, recommended therapeutic goals include glycaemic control, maintaining a healthy weight and strict control of blood pressure. Culturally derived understandings of the illness and options for management will affect the way in which the person of Indian origin reacts to diabetes. This study looked at the way in which Type 2 diabetes is constructed and positioned while reflecting on how Indian culture might affect the way in which diabetes is interpreted and experienced. Seven males and five females, identifying themselves as being of Indian origin and managing Type 2 diabetes without the use of insulin were selected for the study. Semi-structured interviews were taped, transcribed and analysed using a reflexive approach to Foulcauldian discourse analysis Understanding diabetes begins through describing and accounting for the diabetic body which is believed to be different to other bodies. The way in which the person with diabetes might chose to control the disease and minimise harm to the body is validated by particular beliefs in cause and nature. As a result, the person with diabetes is able to construct a constantly evolving picture of the way in which the disease develops, what can be expected of it and what diabetes means for them, for their families and social connections. All this takes place within the particular social and cultural perceptual system of the person of Indian origin and the environment within which they live their every-day lives. The person with diabetes is actively engaged in processing new information, weighing options and defining who they are, not merely as someone with diabetes but as multi-dimensional individuals. Drawing on different constructions of the self, to justify and explain actions taken, opens up or limits access to opportunities to make changes and embrace new behaviors to manage their diabetes.