Introduction Self-management is widely promoted but less attention is focused on the work required from patients. To date, many individuals struggle to practise self-management. 'Patient work', a concept that examines the 'work' involved in self-management, is an approach to understanding the tasks, effort, time and context from patient perspective. The purpose of our study is to use a novel approach combining non-obstructive observations via digital devices with in-depth qualitative data about health behaviours and motivations, to capture the full range of patient work experienced by people with type 2 diabetes and chronic comorbidities. It aims to yield comprehensive insights about 'what works' in self-management, potentially extending to populations with other chronic health conditions.
Methods and analysis This mixed-methods observational study involves a (1) prestudy interview and questionnaires, (2) a 24-hour period during which participants wear a camera and complete a time-use diary, and a (3) poststudy interview and study feedback. Adult participants living with type 2 diabetes with at least one chronic comorbidity will be recruited using purposive sampling to obtain a balanced gender ratio and of participants using insulin and those using only oral medication. Interviews will be analysed using thematic analysis. Data captured by digital devices, diaries and questionnaires will be used to analyse the duration, time, context and patterns of health-related behaviours.
Ethics and dissemination The study was approved by the Macquarie University Human Research Ethics Committee for Medical Sciences (reference number 5201700718). Participants will carry a wallet-sized card that explains the purpose of the study to third parties, and can remove the camera at any stage. Before the poststudy interview begins, participants will view the camera images in private and can delete any images. Should any images be used in future publications or presentations, identifying features such as human faces and names will be obscured.