The transition to adulthood is a challenging period for individuals with type 1 diabetes, especially those attending post-secondary education (PSE) at a university or college. In addition to balancing academic responsibilities and adapting to a novel environment, young adults (YAs) with type 1 diabetes must more independently manage the daily demands of diabetes care.
The aim of this study was to collect qualitative data from multiple stakeholders addressing the transition of students with type 1 diabetes into a PSE setting.
A total of 15 participants were interviewed, including three health care provider diabetes educators, four parents of YAs with type 1 diabetes, and eight YAs with type 1 diabetes. Reflexive thematic analysis of the qualitative interviews revealed four major themes and 11 subthemes.
The four major themes revealed included 1) inappropriateness of services available to support students with type 1 diabetes in PSE settings, 2) individuals with type 1 diabetes having to compensate for inadequate systems, 3) variability of social support effectiveness, and 4) the need for a more holistic approach to improve diabetes education and social support systemically.
This study identified some key systemic barriers experienced by PSE students with type 1 diabetes. Future research needs to extend the sample populations to understand a wider range of PSE student experiences. The findings from this study provide initial recommendations to develop new PSE readiness interventions for YAs with type 1 diabetes.