Currently residing in Toronto, Canada, Alexandra Jocic holds a Master of Health Studies from Athabasca University and is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Her MHS research explores type 1 diabetes and emotional labour in young and emerging adults, and her doctorate research focuses on the supernatural in literature and its relationship to violence in the modern nation-state. She particularly enjoys the application of humanities-based approaches and methodologies to healthcare research.
Paper Title: Type 1 diabetes and emotional labour in young adults: Interpretive phenomenological analysis
Background: Existing scholarship on the intersection of T1 diabetes management, its accompanying psychosocial challenges, and mental health repercussions informed this research that examined whether young adults with T1 diabetes experience emotional labour, and if the concept could deepen understandings of living with diabetes. Current research shows that emotional labour has not been applied to transitioning youth with T1 diabetes, though it has been employed in other disciplines to explore the experiences of racially marginalized groups.
Research Question: 1) Do young adults with T1 diabetes experience high levels of emotional labour? 2) Can the concepts of emotional labour be used to deepen understandings of why young adults with T1 diabetes experience increased risk of psychosocial challenges?
Methodology: Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis
Results: Nine woman-identifying participants between 23 and 29 years old with onset of T1 diabetes between 5 to 22 years old understood emotional labour to be inherent to disease management and tied to their marginalization as individuals living with chronic illness. They identified sources of illness-related emotional labour, including tough love, mental calculus, misconceptions, systemic barriers, the intrapersonal relationship to diabetes, and their internalized expectation of perfect control.
Implications: The over-expenditure of emotional labour suggests profound implications for mental health outcomes and diabetes distress levels, and participant experiences revealed institutionally imbedded ableism that elicited even further expenditure of emotional labour. Reconsideration of educational frameworks and praxis within diabetes healthcare may alleviate emotional labour and diabetes distress.