Original Research

Lived experiences of diabetic outpatients attending clinics in rural areas of Limpopo province in South Africa

Mabitsela H. Mphasha, Tebogo M. Mothiba, Linda Skaal
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 28 | a1726 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v28i0.1726 | © 2023 Mabitsela Hezekiel Mphasha, Tebogo Maria Mothiba, Linda Skaal | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 June 2021 | Published: 23 June 2023

About the author(s)

Mabitsela H. Mphasha, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Healthcare Sciences, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa
Tebogo M. Mothiba, Faculty of Healthcare Sciences, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa
Linda Skaal, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Healthcare Sciences, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa


Background: Prevalence of diabetes mellitus is increasing in South Africa (SA), with many people unknowingly living with undiagnosed diabetes. Living with a long-term illness like diabetes significantly impacts every aspect of one’s life. It is essential to understand the lived experience of patients to ensure better management and intervention.

Aim: To explore the lived experiences of diabetic outpatients.

Setting: Clinics of Senwabarwana, in Blouberg Local Municipality of the Capricorn District Municipality in Limpopo province of SA.

Method: Qualitative phenomenological exploratory descriptive study design was adopted to collect data from 17 diabetic patients. Purposive sampling was utilised to choose respondents. Data were collected through one-to-one interviews using voice recorders and field notes for nonverbal cues. Data were analysed using the eight steps of Tesch’s inductive, descriptive and open coding technique.

Results: Respondents detailed difficulty disclosing their diagnosis due to feelings of shame. They also experienced stress and an inability to perform duties they used to perform before diagnosis. Male respondents detailed their experiences of sexual problems and a fear of losing their wives to other men as a result.

Conclusion: Patients living with diabetes are unable to perform some tasks that they were able to perform before diagnosis. This could be attributed to poor dietary choices and a lack of social support, leading to patients missing critical elements of diabetes care. Quality of life of patients who are unable to perform their daily tasks should be assessed, with appropriate interventions introduced to curb further deterioration. Male diabetes patients experience sexual dysfunction and a fear of losing their wives, which exacerbates their stress.

Contribution: This study encourages the adoption of a family-centred approach, partnering with family members in the care of diabetic outpatients since most of the care takes place at home. Further studies are also recommended to design interventions which would address the experiences of patients for better outcomes.


diabetes; patients; living; experiences; diagnosis.


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