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BACKGROUND: Self-monitoring of blood glucose is controversial in the management of type 2 diabetes. Some research suggests that self-monitoring improves glycaemic control, whereas other research is sceptical about its value for people with type 2 diabetes who are not on insulin. Although blood glucose meters are widely available and used by this group, patients' own views are absent from the debate. AIM: To explore the pros and cons of glucose monitoring from the patients' perspectives. DESIGN OF STUDY: Qualitative repeat-interview study. SETTING: Patients were recruited from 16 general practices and three hospital clinics within four local healthcare cooperatives in Lothian, Scotland. METHOD: Interview data from 40 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the previous 6 months were analysed using thematic analysis informed by grounded theory. We report findings from round 1 and round 2 interviews. RESULTS: Glucose monitoring can heighten patients' awareness of the impact of lifestyle; for example, dietary choices, on blood glucose levels. Glucose monitoring amplifies a sense of 'success' or 'failure' about self-management, often resulting in anxiety and self-blame if glucose readings remain consistently high. Moreover, monitoring can negatively effect patients' self-management when readings are counter-intuitive. CONCLUSION: Our analysis highlights the importance of understanding the meanings that newly diagnosed patients attach to glucose self-monitoring. To maximise the positive effects of self-monitoring, health professionals should ensure that patients understand the purpose of monitoring and should clarify with patients how readings should be interpreted.