Every year 1.5 million individuals are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), with an expected increase of 1.8% each year. Independent diabetes management may present unique challenges for young adults with T1DM transitioning to the workplace. In this qualitative study, we explore the experiences of young professionals living with T1DM (20-30 years old) as they launch their professional careers and transition to adulthood while living with a chronic condition. We conducted two in-person focus groups with subjects at the College Diabetes Network in Boston, MA during a weekend retreat. After obtaining informed consent, the 12 participants (5 males, 7 females) attending were randomly selected into each focus group that lasted approximately 60 minutes. Subjects were 24±2.24 years old on average with a mean hemoglobin A1c of 7.9±2.65. Time since T1DM diagnosis ranged from 3 to 20 years with a mean of 9±5.68 years. All but one subject used a pump and continuous glucose monitor for T1DM management. Four subjects were current students (2 undergraduate, 2 graduate) and 8 were employed after completing their bachelor's degrees. Four researchers conducted a thematic analysis of the verbatim transcripts. We followed Merriam’s (2009) qualitative analysis process of open coding, axial coding, and establishing consensus among coders. Five main themes emerged from the focus groups including (1) challenges around disclosure of T1DM in professional settings, (2) support from family, friends, and workplace, (3) accommodations for T1DM in college and the workplace, (4) benefits and challenges associated with diabetes management technology, and (5) having a sense of ownership of T1DM. The theme of T1DM management ownership in the current study goes beyond illness management behaviors to being part of the person’s identity and body image. Results have important implications for young professionals with T1DM launching professional careers.


J. Saylor: None. J.B. Yorgason: None. M.A. Millett: None. A.L. Jackson: None. M. Ness: None. A. Floreen Sabino: None.

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