Situating Stress: Lessons from Lay Discourses on Diabetes

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In response to the serious toll diabetes takes on health and resources, researchers increasingly are examining physical and psychological pathways that affect and are affected by diabetes, including stress. Although biomedical researchers and practitioners are beginning to recognize the association between stress and diabetes onset and management, laypersons have long-standing and extensive insights into the multiple ways in which stress is associated with the diabetes disease process. In this article, we examine lay perspectives on stress and diabetes among a multiethnic sample of 80 adults. Participants suggest varying arenas in which stress intersects with diabetes, including stress as implicated in the origin of diabetes, as a threat to maintaining glycemic control, as a challenge to self-management, and as a precursor to and a consequence of diabetes complications. An improved understanding of such perspectives may enhance appropriate disease management and develop a more valid conceptualization of stress in research efforts.