Original Research

Diet and exercise knowledge and practices for diabetes care within families in Senwabarwana

Mabitsela H. Mphasha, Linda Skaal, Tebogo Mothibal
South African Family Practice | Vol 66, No 1 : Part 1| a5767 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v66i1.5767 | © 2024 Mabitsela H. Mphasha, Linda Skaal, Tebogo Mothibal | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 May 2023 | Published: 30 January 2024

About the author(s)

Mabitsela H. Mphasha, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Healthcare Sciences, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa
Linda Skaal, Department of Research, Faculty of Healthcare Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa
Tebogo Mothibal, Faculty of Healthcare Sciences, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa


Background: Family members (FMs) are a valuable source of support, as the bulk of daily diabetes treatment occurs at home. Family members’ insufficient understanding of patient support can lead to poor diabetes outcomes. Lack of knowledge about good diet and exercise can lead to unhealthy food preparation and sedentary lifestyles, affecting patients and increasing the risk of diabetes. This study aims to fill the gap in the level of knowledge of FMs relating to appropriate care for diabetic patients under their care. This will relate specifically to diet and exercise.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey conducted in Senwabarwana, Limpopo province, involved 200 FMs caring for diabetic patients for at least 6 months. Their experience could offer valuable insights into the competence of their care. Data were collected regarding knowledge and practice using a close-ended questionnaire, with Likert scale responses and SPSS analysis, including descriptive statistics and chi-squared tests. Knowledge was assessed on a scale ranging from poor to excellent: poor (0% – 50%), fair (51% – 60%), good (61% – 74%) and excellent (> 75%). Practice was assessed as poor (0% – 50%), fair (51% – 69%) and good (70% – 100%).

Results: Thirty-one percent of participants demonstrated excellent knowledge and only 9% demonstrated good practice. Unfortunately, 53% stated that obese patients with diabetes should skip meals to lose weight. Only 3.5% and 19%, respectively, are familiar with recommendations for exercise and glucose monitoring. Barely 35.5% of FMs eat breakfast every day, while 87.5% report exercising.

Conclusion: Few FMs possess excellent diabetes management knowledge but still indulge in bad practices, increasing their risk of developing diabetes. Additionally, they may potentially cause health problems for patients.

Contribution: Family-centred behaviour change intervention is recommended.


family members; patient care; knowledge; diet; exercise.


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