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Open Access Research article

A multi-centre qualitative study exploring the experiences of UK South Asian and White Diabetic Patients referred for renal care

Emma Wilkinson1, Gurch Randhawa1*, John Feehally2, Ken Farrington3, Roger Greenwood3, Peter Choi4 and Liz Lightstone4

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Health Research, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK

2 John Walls Renal Unit, Leicester General Hospital, Leicester, UK

3 Lister Renal Unit, North Herts NHS Trust, Stevenage, UK

4 West London Renal and Transplant Centre, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK

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BMC Nephrology 2012, 13:157  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-157

Published: 23 November 2012



An exploration of renal complications of diabetes from the patient perspective is important for developing quality care through the diabetic renal disease care pathway.


Newly referred South Asian and White diabetic renal patients over 16 years were recruited from nephrology outpatient clinics in three UK centres - Luton, West London and Leicester – and their experiences of the diabetes and renal care recorded.

A semi-structured qualitative interview was conducted with 48 patients. Interview transcripts were analysed thematically and comparisons made between the White and South Asian groups.


23 South Asian patients and 25 White patients were interviewed. Patient experience of diabetes ranged from a few months to 35 years with a mean time since diagnosis of 12.1 years and 17.1 years for the South Asian and White patients respectively. Confusion emerged as a response to referral shared by both groups. This sense of confusion was associated with reported lack of information at the time of referral, but also before referral. Language barriers exacerbated confusion for South Asian patients.


The diabetic renal patients who have been referred for specialist renal care and found the referral process confusing have poor of awareness of kidney complications of diabetes. Healthcare providers should be more aware of the ongoing information needs of long term diabetics as well as the context of any information exchange including language barriers.

South Asian; Patient experience; Renal complications of diabetes; Access; Care pathway