Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Gender Differences in Risk Perception and Emotional Distress in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Gender Differences in Risk Perception and Emotional Distress in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

Article excerpt

Patients with Type II diabetes may experience psychological distress i.e. depression and anxiety, but little recognition or intervention has been offered to them. There is an evidence to suggest that depression affects 10-20% of patients with Type II diabetes but often it goes unrecognized and unnoticed (Pouwer, 2009).

In diabetes mellitus (DM), the body is unable to produce insulin, or becomes incapable of utilizing the pancreatic hormone properly (Richard, 2002). In DM, there is a high level of blood glucose which results from a deficit of insulin. This deficiency could be absolute insulin deficiency, or insufficient insulin action (insulin resistance), and/or a failure of the beta-cells to produce sufficient insulin (Jenny, Ivan, Victor, & Francois, 2011). The prevalence rates of diabetes varies markedly around the world; the disease is absent or rare in some indigenous communities in developing countries in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Western Pacific, while among some Arabic, Asian Indian Chinese, and Hispanic American populations, it has been reported 14 to 20 percent (WHO, 2000). In the United States, African Americans, Hispanic American, and Native Americans are at a higher risk for adult-onset diabetes than European Americans and Asian Americans (USDHHS, 2000).

Diabetes has been reported as the third most common chronic illness and one of the leading causes of death. The population of developing countries appears to be at a greater risk of DM. The WHO ranks Pakistan seventh in the prevalence of diabetes and around 5,217,306 people in Pakistan are estimated to suffer from diabetes. By 2030, it is estimated that the number will rise to 1 4,899,131 (WHO, 2009).

Risk has been viewed as an objective reality which is measureable, controllable, and manageable. Risk is often socially constructed, and depending on the socio-cultural context, different groups of people generally understand it differently. In a specific dangerous situation, risk has often been seen as the likelihood that an individual will experience the effect of danger (Short, 1984). There seems to be consensus among researchers that risk consists of the probability of an adverse event and the resulting consequences (Rayner & Cantor, 1987). Uncertainty of a situation also holds significance in the context of risk as it has been considered as an event or a situation in which something of human importance is at stake and there is uncertainty about the outcome (Rosa, 2003). Thereby, uncertainty is closely related to risk and psychological uncertainty has been assumed to be an important mediator of human responses in situations, where outcomes are uncertain.

Risk perception is a subjective phenomenon that assesses the likelihood of occurrence of a specific event and the degree to which one shows concern about its consequences. In addition to individual perception, perception of risk is a social and cultural construct and it reflects ideology, values, history, and symbols (Weinstein, 1989). Risk perception varies in accordance with one's cultural and social context (Boholm, 1998). It is a subjective judgment which is determined by a combination of individual characteristics and nature and severity of the risk (Douglas, 1985).

A risk-as-feeling hypothesis was proposed by Loewenstein, Weber, Hsee and Welch (2001) and it highlights affective experiences at the time decision-making when one is exposed to risk. They further assert that affective responses to risky situations often interrupt cognitive evaluations of those risks. Sovic (1992) proposed a psychometric theory of risk. The major assumption of this paradigm is that risk is inherently subjective and it is an individual cognitive process, i.e. the perception of threats to health or feelings of uncontrollability that make one perceive danger. McDaniels (1995) proposes that psychometric paradigm should be considered as an approach to identify those characteristics which influence people's perception of risk. …

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