Living Together with Chronic Disease: Informal Support for Diabetes Management in Vietnam (VALID)

Global health is in transition: non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are currently posing new challenges to individuals, families and governments across the globe.  As a case for addressing NCDs, this project focuses on type 2 diabetes in Vietnam, exploring the role of informal support in everyday disease management.


The prevalence of chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes is currently rising dramatically across the world, with particularly severe consequences for low- and middle-income countries.

This research project is based on the assumption that informal support plays a significant, but under-recognized role in everyday lives with chronic disease and that more systematic knowledge of the role of informal forms of care can enhance national responses to the NCD epidemic, improving health systems capacities to address diabetes and other NCDs while also enhancing our understanding of the ways in which family and household dynamics shape the human impact of chronic health conditions.















Gammeltoft, TM, Bui DTH, Vu DTK, Vu DA, Nguyen AT. (In press) "Existential vulnerability: An ethnographic study of everyday lives with diabetes in Vietnam" in Anthropology & Medicine.

Gammeltoft, TM. (In press) "The force of love: Type 2 Diabetes as Tentatively Transformative Experience in Vietnam" in Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology.

Gammeltoft, TM. (Accepted for publication) "Everyday attentiveness: understanding diabetes in Vietnam through literary displacement" in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.


Thi et al. (2021) "Unmet needs for social support and diabetes-related distress among people living with type 2 diabetes in Thai Binh, Vietnam: a cross-sectional study" in BMC Public Health, 21:1532. . The article is Open Access - download in pdf.

Thi Bui DH, Nguyen BX, Truong DC, Meyrowitsch DW, Søndergaard J, Gammeltoft T, et al. (2021) "Polypharmacy among people living with type 2 diabetes mellitus in rural communes in Vietnam" in PLoS ONE 16(4): e0249849. The article is open access - download in pdf.

Nguyen, T D et al. (2021) "Perceived knowledge on type-2 diabetes of informal caregivers in rural
communities of Thai Binh, Vietnam: Implications for health education" in Public Health in Practice, vol. 2. The article is open access - download in pdf.

Gammeltoft, TM. (2020) "Waiting." Fictions, Fieldsights, in Cultural Anthropology, October 20. Open access at

Download the articles below in pdf (not available in english).

Ai et al (2019) "Distress in diabetes patients: A study from Vietnam combining quantitative and qualitative methods" in Vietnam Medical Journal, no 1.  Download in pdf.

Dieu et al. (2019) "Health insurance - some reasons need special attention" - download in pdf

Dung et al. (2019) "The diet regime for diabette patients at Vietnam rural areas: The barriers from oneself, family and society" in Vietnam Medical Journal, no 1.  Download in pdf

Hieu et al. (2019) "Hypoglycemia: The perspectives of Patients with Type 2 diabetes" in Vietnam Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 10, no. 1. Download in pdf.

Ai et al (2021) "The difficulties of diabetes patients in COVID-19 pandemic: The qualitative research respectives from diabetic patients in Vietnam" in Vietnam Journal of Preventive Medicine, Vol 31 (3). - download in pdf.

Anh et al. (2021) "Treatment compliance of diabetic patients during the COVID-19 epidemic: Qualitative research from the patient's perspective in Vietnam" in Vietnam Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 31 (2) - Download in pdf


Press reports in Vietnam:







Project partners

The project is conducted in Vietnam’s Thai Binh province as an academic partnership between Thai Binh University of Medicine and Pharmacy (TBUMP) and the Universities of Copenhagen, UCPH, and Southern Denmark, SDU. (See news article)

The project is carried out in close collaboration with the Danish-Vietnamese Strategic Sector Cooperation (SSC) project: Strengthening the Frontline Grassroots Health Worker: Prevention and Management of NCDs at the Primary Health Care Level, with Novo Nordisk as private sector partner. The project places emphasis on research capacity building and includes a pilot intervention programme that introduces diabetes clubs and -classes as elements of diabetes care in Vietnam.

Signing ceremony
Foto: Signing ceremony in Thai Binh.







Participants in writing retreat

In July 2019, an ethnographic writing workshop was held in Thai Binh, and in November 2019, a joint scientific writing workshop (focusing on the cross-sectional surveys results) was held in Ninh Binh, Vietnam with the participation of four Danish researchers and 12 researchers from Thai Binh University of Medicine and Pharmacy.

Presentation at the Department of Public Health's Global Health Section, November 4, 2021 by Tine Gammeltoft, Dan Meyrowitsch and Ib Bygbjerg. "Writing Retreats for Research: Roles, Results and Reflections from the VALID Project in Vienam". Download in pdf.


Data collection for WP1 and WP2
Combining epidemiological and ethnographic research methods, data collection for the project has been in process since 2018. 27 ethnographic case studies have been conducted: we are visiting patients and their families on a regular basis and have continued to do so during the Covid-19 epidemic. Both of our planned cross-sectional surveys for WP2 have been conducted.

5 Vietnamese language articles have been published, and two international articles are under peer review/in preparation. Additional Vietnamese articles are in preparation, including one on the impact of C19 on the lives of people with chronic disease. Six international articles based on the cross-sectional surveys are currently in preparation.

The articles are based on interdisciplinary research conducted in cooperation with the Ministries of Health of Denmark and Vietnam’s strategic sector cooperation (SSC) project titled “Strengthening the Frontline Grassroots Health Worker: Prevention and Management of NCDs at the Primary Health Care Level” (see “Collaboration”).

Data collection WP1 and WP2


Pilot intervention participants

The pilot intervention was planned during a participatory design workshop held in Thai Binh on October 7-10, 2019, with the participation of researchers, health providers, community health workers, and patient/informal caregiver representatives. Because of needs expressed during this participatory workshop, patient clubs and -classes served as our main technologies for the intervention. Implementation of the pilot intervention was originally scheduled to start in spring 2020 but were postponed to the fall due to Covid-19.

Patient education materials which were used during the intervention was developed, drawing on needs identified through WP1+WP2 research. The clubs and classes were held successfully.

Pilot intervention participants



Name Title Phone E-mail
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Dan Wolf Meyrowitsch Associate Professor +4535327174 E-mail
Ib Christian Bygbjerg Professor +4535327835 E-mail
Tine Mette Gammeltoft Professor +4535323474 E-mail

Funded by:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

The project has received funding from Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

Project: VALID - Living Together with Chronic Disease: Informal Support for Diabetes Management in Vietnam
Period:  November 2018 - October 2022.


Professor Tine Gammeltoft
Department of Anthropology
Phone: +45 35 32 34 74
Mobile: +45 61 86 08 83

External members:

Name Title
Professor Jens Søndergaard Research Unit of General Practice, University of Southern Denmark
Dr Nguyen Xuan Bai Vice-Rector at Thai Binh University of Medicine and Pharmacy
Dr Nguyen Duc Thanh Head of International Department at Thai Binh University of Medicine and Pharmacy