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Falling into a deep dark hole: Tongan people’s perceptions of being at risk of developing type 2 diabetes

journal contribution
posted on 2020-11-30, 05:55 authored by J Faletau, V Nosa, Rosie DobsonRosie Dobson, M Heather, J McCool
© 2020 The Authors Health Expectations published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Background: Prediabetes is a precursor for type 2 diabetes. Compared to the New Zealand/European and other population groups (24.6%), the prevalence of prediabetes is higher within Pacific groups (29.8%). The diagnosis of prediabetes presents a potential opportunity to intervene to prevent progression to type 2 diabetes. Objective: To develop an understanding of how being ‘at risk’ of developing type 2 diabetes is perceived by Tongan people with prediabetes living in Auckland, New Zealand. Methods: The Kakala and Talanga Tongan methodologies underpinned this study. Twelve one-on-one, semi-structured interviews with Tongan patients who had prediabetes from a primary health-care clinic in Auckland, New Zealand, were conducted. Thematic analysis was used to identify recurrent themes from the data. Results: Participants were not aware of their prediabetes diagnosis, emotions associated with the diagnosis reflected fear and disbelief and a perception of imminent danger. Family history informed perceptions of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Participants could not differentiate prediabetes from type 2 diabetes, and recollections of being ‘back in the Islands’ of Tonga were consistent with healthy lifestyles. Conclusions: Prediabetes appeared to be poorly understood and was believed to be irreversible, which could discourage behaviour change, social and physical improvements in health. Appropriate culturally tailored messages to accompany a prediabetes diagnosis, including cause and management, would be beneficial for Pacific peoples.


This research was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand Pacific PhD Scholarship.


Publication Date



Health Expectations






9p. (p. 837-845)





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