The role of time perspective in selfcare of type 1 diabetes in emerging adults

  • Elaine Sharp

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Type 1 diabetes is a chronic endocrine condition, leading to insufficiency of insulin and an increase in blood glucose levels. Complex daily self-care is required to manage the condition, which can be a burden. For emerging adults (approximately between the ages of 18 to 30 years) with type 1 diabetes, assuming full responsibility for their self-care can be overwhelming and frequently leads to a deterioration in their glycaemic control. Suboptimal glycaemic control is associated with chronic complications of diabetes later in life. It is therefore important to better understand characteristics that influence self-care behaviours in emerging adults, so that individuals can be suitably supported to protect their future health. One characteristic known to influence health behaviour is time perspective. Time perspective is an individual’s perception of their past, present and future, and these perceptions of the different temporal zones can influence behaviour to a varying extent. However, the influence of time perspective on self-care of type 1 diabetes in emerging adults, has not been previously investigated.

This thesis presents a sequential explanatory mixed methods study, where an initial quantitative phase was followed with a qualitative phase, to explain the findings. Phase I involved a cross-sectional questionnaire study, where respondents’ time perspective, self-care behaviours and the glycaemic control marker HbA1c were reported (n=75). Results showed future time perspective was associated with higher self-care scores (r = .42, p < .001) and lower HbA1c (r = -.28, p = .02). Past negative time perspective was associated with lower self-care (r = -.33, p < .001) and higher HbA1c (r = .47, p < .001). Hierarchical regression showed that future time perspective uniquely predicted 24% of the variance in self-care (t = 3.06, p < .01) and past negative perspective predicted 25% of the variance in HbA1c (t = 1.98, p = .05). In Phase II (n = 18), thematic analysis of qualitative interviews revealed that self-care was motivated by shortterm future goals. Past negative experiences due to diabetes had impacted mental health and produced negative views about the future.

The unique care needs of emerging adults identified in this research are discussed in relation to time perspective theory, and recommendations are made for policy, practice and further research.
Date of AwardJun 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorSian Williams (Supervisor) & Wendy Macfarlane (Supervisor)


  • type 1 diabetes
  • time perspective
  • emerging adulthood
  • self-care
  • mixed methods

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