Motivations for Insulin Misuse Among Women with Disordered Eating and Type 1 Diabetes




Tyo, Robyn Ann

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University of Guelph


The present study assessed participants’ motivations for misusing insulin using phenomenological analysis and risk theory. Eleven women with type 1 diabetes were interviewed and asked to discuss body image, their experiences with adjusting to type 1 diabetes, and their particular insulin misuse behaviour. Nine women misused insulin for body image and weight concerns, as a result of diabetes burnout, or a combination of these factors. The majority of participants had poor body image at the time of insulin misuse, and reported feeling more confident following weight loss related to misusing insulin. The opinions of family, friends, and health care providers were, generally, not influential on the women’s self-care behaviour. The perceived benefits of insulin misuse (i.e. weight loss and improved body image) were deemed more important than both short-term and long-term health. Participants in this study did not consider themselves to be at risk of developing diabetes-related complications in the short-term, and this belief appeared to foster their continued insulin misuse. There is a need for health care providers to recognize the signs of insulin misuse behaviour and offer resources where available.



diabetes, disordered eating, insulin misuse, qualitative, phenomenology, perception of risk