Self-Reflection Tools for Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

Updated: Mar 5, 2020


Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is increasingly prevalent in the US. 9.4 percent of the population have diabetes, and 26.3 percent have pre-diabetes. However, many patients with T2D find it difficult to self-manage their diabetes. In fact, 45 percent of patients with T2D have not achieved the optimal blood glucose level. In collaboration with Michigan Medicine Department of Family Medicine, I sought to investigate the problem space of diabetes self-management in the hopes of helping patients with T2D engage in diabetes care in their daily lives.



  • I learned that stakeholders should become my lens to explore the context of problem space and I need to constantly expand my understanding by listening to, interacting with, and learning from those people from different backgrounds and perspectives. This process requires humility and sometimes constantly checking my own unconscious bias. I also realized that in such a process the interests and passion that I had for certain topics or compassion that I had toward a certain group of people could prevent me from seeing things from a new or different perspective if I am not cautious about.

  • There were challenges in understanding and interpreting the participants’ views, and opinions in the sense that how they perceive the activities they are doing does not necessarily reflect how they engage with them. For example, one patient commented in her third interview that she started feeling bored about using the self-reflection tools since it had become repetitive. She had been one of the particularly enthusiastic participants who had used the design intervention almost every day. She might not have found the tools that useful although she had faithfully used it. From these experiences, I learned that designers should always be aware of the fact that there can have their own bias and assumptions while interacting with participants, which can prevent them from exploring untapped areas of possible issues they are looking into.