The experiences of Chinese general practitioners in communicating with people with type 2 diabetes - a focus group study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Mi Yao
  • Dong-ying Zhang
  • Jie-ting Fan
  • Kai Lin
  • Dawn Jackson
  • Hai Li
  • Wei Chen

Colleges, School and Institutes


Background: China has more ascertained cases of diabetes than any other country. Much of the care of people with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) in China is being managed by GPs in China during and this will increase with the implementation of health care reforms aimed atin strengthening China’s primary health care system. Diabetes care requires effective communication between physicians and patients, yet little is known about this area in China. We aimed to explore the experiences of Chinese GPs experiences in communication communicating with diabetes patients and how theise may relatein relation to communication skills training.

Methods: Focus groups with Chinese GPs were undertaken. Purposive and snowball sampling were was used to recruit 15 GPs from Guangzhou city in China. All data was were audio-recorded and transcribed. A thematic analysis using the Framework Method was applied to code the data and identify themes.

Results: 7 males and 8 females from 12 general practices attended in 4 focus groups with a mean age of 37.6 years and 7.5 yearsyears’ work experience. Four major themes emergedwere identified :identified: diabetes patients’ diversity faced by physicians diversity in diabetic patients, communication with patients, patient-doctor relationship, and communication skills training. GPs reported faced facing a wide variety of diabetes patients in their daily practice. They believed patients’ insufficient knowledge and misunderstanding of diabetes was common among patientsinsufficient and that misunderstanding is common. They believed highlighted several difficulties challenges existed in communication communicating with diabetes patients, such as insufficient consultation time, poor communication in regarding blood glucose monitoring and misunderstanding of the risk of complications. They used terms such as mentioned “blind spot” or “not on the same channel” to describe with their patients, which means the gaps in their patients’ understanding of diabetes and its and managingement, their condition between each other and cited this as a caused cause of ineffective patient-doctor communication. Mutual understanding of diabetes was perceived to be an important factor towards building positive patient-doctor relationships. Although GPs believed communication skills training was is necessary, they reported rarely received communication skills trainingthis.

Conclusions: Chinese GPs reported faced facing challenges in communication communicating with diabetes patients. Misunderstanding exists between the two sides.Some of these were perceived as being due to the patients themselves, others were attributed to system constraints, and some were seen as duerelated to a lack of doctorclinician training. Further strategies need considerThe study identified key issues for the development of primary care basedcare-based management of diabetes in China, and for developing appropriate communication skills training programs to improve GPs capacity to achieve better outcome of diabetes care in primary care.for the primary care workforce.
Keywords: Type 2 diabetes mellitus, Communication, Experiences, General practitioner


Original languageEnglish
Article number156
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jul 2021


  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus, Communication, Experiences, General practitioner

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