Type 1 Diabetes in Australian Primary Schools: Parental Concerns and Strategies for Improvement
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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the management of type 1 diabetes in Australian primary schools (Kindergarten to Year 2), from the parent's perspective. The study aimed to explore the concerns of parents regarding diabetes management in the school setting and the strategies needed to improve diabetes management in the school setting.
Method: A cross sectional, descriptive approach was used to collect data from parents (n = 66) of children with type 1 diabetes attending an Australian primary school (Kindergarten to Year 2). An online self-administered questionnaire was designed in Survey Monkey and was available via a dedicated Facebook page. Qualitative data from the questionnaire were analysed using thematic analysis adapted from grounded theory coding. Quantitative data were statistically analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21.
Results: Parental concerns included difficulties with participation in school activities, inclusion at meal times, lack of independence and missing school due to fluctuating blood glucose levels (BGLs) or lack of full staff support. Children often missed classroom activities or time with peers when they had to attend the office for routine care. Safety was also a problem at school and many parents expressed the importance of adult assistance during fluctuating BGLs and easy access to hypo treatment. Two strategies for improving diabetes management at school were education of school staff and allocation of appropriate school staff support.
Conclusion: Difficulty with participation in school activities is a common concern among parents of children with diabetes. In order for the child to experience a safe inclusive school environment, the appropriate level of education, staffing and ongoing support is required.