Sharing Visual Narratives of Diabetes on Social Media and Its Effects on Mental Health

Syed Ali Hussain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Diabetes is a chronic illness affecting over six percent of the global population. Visual social media sites such as Tumblr provide a unique opportunity to understand visual illness narratives of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and its effects on mental health. We qualitatively analyze 259 Tumblr images with a “diabetes” hashtag. The results provide rich insights into the lives of diabetes patients, including personal and social life interactions, visual narratives portraying one’s acceptance and maintenance of diabetes, difficulty in social interactions, and how patients’ identity and beliefs are shaped by the daily struggles and failures of living with diabetes. We discuss the findings in the context of the chaos, quest, and restitution narratives of illness proposed by Arthur Frank. The results have implications for the visual representation of chronic diseases on social media and for improving patient–provider interactions and treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1748
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Tumblr
  • chronic illnesses
  • diabetes
  • mental health
  • social media
  • visual narratives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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