Purpose: This paper aims to explicate one of the major findings of a research study seeking to understand how Indonesian people with diabetes learn about their disease. The one key finding discussed in this paper is how families influence the learning and self-management processes adopted by Indonesian people with diabetes. Design/methodology/approach: A grounded theory methodology was adopted to investigate how Indonesian people with diabetes learn about their disease. Twenty-eight semi-structured interviews were undertaken with Indonesian people living with diabetes, families of people living with diabetes, healthcare professionals and other healthcare providers. Data was analysed by using constant comparative analysis during three coding stages. Findings: The study explicated the basic social process of how people with diabetes in Indonesia learn about their disease through a generated theory “Learning, choosing, and acting: self-management of diabetes in Indonesia”. This study found family engagement was integral to Indonesian people living with diabetes who were self-managing their disease. Families assisted with seeking information, providing recommendations, selecting and implementing actions, appraising implemented actions, and informing others about their experiences. By acknowledging that family is involved in this process, the healthcare professional can adequately provide health education to both the person with diabetes and their families. Involving families in health education is crucial as family can influence decision making made by people with diabetes in a proper or improper way. Thus, clinicians need to also skilfully recognise difficulties these people encounter by monitoring their self-management progress and by working closely with them and their family members. Originality/value: This is the first study conducted in Indonesia that specifically investigates the process of how people with diabetes learn about their disease. The involvement of families in this process is a central finding of the study. Families can enhance the overall health and well-being of the person with diabetes, aid in early recognition of aberration to health status and trigger the initiation of interventions to re-establish homeostasis if they are actively engaged and supported by health professionals.