Situating stress: Lessons from lay discourses on diabetes

March 9, 2005


  • Nancy E. Schoenberg
  • Elaine M. Drew
  • Eleanor Palo Stoller
  • Cary Kart
(Originally published as Schoenberg, N. E., Drew, E. M., Stoller, E. P., and Kart, C.S. 'Situating Stress: Lessons form Lay Discourse on Diabetes,' Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 2 (June 2005): 171-193. Copyright © 2005 by the American Anthropological Association. Copying and Permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use is granted by the American Anthropological Association for educational and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on AnthroSource®,, or directly through the Copyright Clearance Center,

In response to the serious toll diabetes takes on health and resources, researchers increasingly are examining physical and psychological pathways that affect and are affected by diabetes, including stress. Although biomedical researchers and practitioners are beginning to recognize the association between stress and diabetes onset and management, laypersons have long-standing and extensive insights into the multiple ways in which stress is associated with the diabetes disease process. In this article, we examine lay perspectives on stress and diabetes among a multiethnic sample of 80 adults. Participants suggest varying arenas in which stress intersects with diabetes, including stress as implicated in the origin of diabetes, as a threat to maintaining glycemic control, as a challenge to self-management, and as a precursor to and a consequence of diabetes complications. An improved understanding of such perspectives may enhance appropriate disease management and develop a more valid conceptualization of stress in research efforts.

(Published in Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 171-193.)

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