Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Diabetes care and service access among elderly Vietnamese with type 2 diabetes

Mary C Carolan-Olah3*, Angie Cassar2, Regina Quiazon4 and Sean Lynch1

Author Affiliations

1 Inner North West Melbourne Medicare Local, Level 1, 369 Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

2 Inner North West Primary Care Partnership, 11 Glenlyon Road, Brunswick, Victoria, Australia

3 College of Health and Biomedicine, Victoria University, McKechnie Street, St Albans, Victoria, Australia

4 Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, Suite 207, Level 2, Carringbush Building, 134 Cambridge Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:447  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-447

Published: 29 October 2013



Vietnamese patients are disproportionately represented in type 2 diabetes mellitus statistics and also incur high rates of diabetes complications. This situation is compounded by limited access to health care. The aim of this project was to gain a deeper understanding of the difficulties Vietnamese patients experience when accessing services and managing their type 2 diabetes mellitus, and to identify factors that are important in promoting health service use.


Three focus groups with 15 Vietnamese participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus, 60 to >70 years of age, were conducted in Vietnamese. Open-ended questions were used and focussed on experiences of living with diabetes and access to healthcare services in the Inner Northwest Melbourne region. Audio recordings were transcribed and then translated into English. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis framework.


Findings indicate four main themes, which together provide some insight into the experiences of living with diabetes and accessing ongoing care and support, for elderly Vietnamese with type 2 diabetes. Themes included: (1) the value of being healthy; (2) controlling diabetes; (3) staying healthy; and (4) improving services and information access.


Participants in this study were encouraged to adhere to diabetes self-management principles, based largely on a fear of medical complications. Important aspects of healthcare access were identified as; being treated with respect, having their questions answered and having access to interpreters and information in Vietnamese. Attention to these details is likely to lead to improved access to healthcare services and ultimately to improve glycemic control and overall health status for this community.