Living Together with Chronic Disease: Informal Support for Diabetes Management in Vietnam

Project summary

Global health is in transition: across the globe, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pose urgent challenges to individuals, families and governments, hitting the world’s poor particularly hard. Due to their extensive human and economic costs, NCDs are considered to be one of the major development challenges of the 21st century, and NCDs hold a key position on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This project argues that in order to develop more effective and locally grounded responses to the gobal NCD epidemic, the resources and potentials of the informal health care sector (defined as the lay, nonprofessional part of the health care system) must be investigated.

The project aims to advance NCD research by providing new insights on the informal support that makes it possible (or not) for people with NCDs to manage their condition well, including making optimal use of professional health care services. As a case for addressing NCDs, the project focuses on type 2 diabetes (T2D) in Vietnam.

The project will be conducted in Thai Binh province as an academic partnership between Thai Binh University of Medicine and Pharmacy and the Universities of Copenhagen and Southern Denmark. The project will be conducted in close collaboration with the Danish-Vietnamese Strategic Sector Cooperation (SSC) project: Strengthening the Frontline Grassroots Health Worker: Prevention and Management of NCDs at the Primary Health Care Level, and with Novo Nordisk as private sector partner. Aiming for synergy with the SSC project, the proposed project aims to break new ground in diabetes care by developing innovative models for active involvement of informal support persons in day-to-day disease management, while also enhancing Vietnamese and Danish research capacities in the NCD field and offering new knowledge on the connections between informal support and everyday NCD management.


Midterm report
Through its two cross-sectional surveys, the research is generating insights into the informal forms of support that people with type 2 diabetes rely on, highlighting particularly the unmet needs for support and the emotional distress that patients are struggling with. Further, through detailed extended case studies conducted among 27 people with diabetes and their families, in-depth understandings of the meanings and challenges of informal support in the everyday lives of patients are highlighted.

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