Acquisition, application, and distribution of health literacy from culturally sensitive type 2 diabetes education among Arabic-Speaking migrants in Denmark: A longitudinal qualitative analysis

Anne Mette Juul Andersen, Signe Smith Jervelund, Helle Terkildsen Maindal, Nana Folmann Hempler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Effective self-management of type 2 diabetes requires adequate health literacy (HL) and a supportive network. Diabetes self-management education and support programmes play a crucial role in improving these factors. However, limited research exists on how such programmes can support health literacy among migrants and facilitate the dissemination of knowledge within their social networks.

AIM: This study aimed to investigate the perspectives of Arabic-speaking informants with a migrant background in relation to how their type 2 diabetes-related health literacy was acquired, applied and distributed within social networks through participation in a culturally sensitive diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) programme.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 informants during the programme and three to 7 months later, from September 2019 to May 2020. Abductive analysis was applied using HL and distributed health literacy (DHL) theory as frameworks.

RESULTS: The analysis generated three themes: (1) sources of health information and the development of health literacy; (2) changes towards active self-management; and (3) distributed health literacy. Prior to programme participation, informants faced challenges in navigating conflicting information from family, friends and social media. After participating in the programme, they reported improvements in HL, particularly in knowledge acquisition. Many became more actively engaged in decision-making and exhibited improved health behaviours, such as dietary choices. Nonetheless, some informants continued to struggle with choosing appropriate prevention and treatment strategies. Notably, certain informants acted as HL mediators, sharing their newly acquired knowledge within their social networks in Denmark and abroad.

CONCLUSION: Culturally sensitive diabetes self-management education programmes have the potential to enhance HL among migrants, leading to the distribution of relevant diabetes knowledge within their social networks. Future studies should explore how members of migrants' social networks perceive their supportive role in type 2 diabetes management. Programmes can benefit from emphasising critical HL and exploring how participant-informants effectively communicate diabetes-related knowledge within their networks to address misinformation and conflicting information.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13228
JournalScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
Pages (from-to)523-535
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • cultural sensitivity
  • distributed health literacy
  • health literacy
  • migrants
  • patient education
  • self-management
  • social networking
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Transients and Migrants/psychology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic/methods
  • Health Literacy
  • Male
  • Arabs/psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2/therapy
  • Denmark
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Longitudinal Studies


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