Diabetes-related distress linked to higher HbA1c in teens with type 1 diabetes

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Adolescents with type 1 diabetes are more likely to have higher HbA1c levels if they experience diabetes-related distress, new research reports.
The findings highlight the importance of clinical support for young people with type 1 diabetes and why effective interventions are pivotal to improving their diabetes control.
Scientists from the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, Melbourne, Australia examined data from 450 adolescents aged 13-19, all of whom had type 1 diabetes. They answered questionnaires on well-being and quality of life, and had their depressive symptoms assessed.
Teenagers with higher levels of diabetes distress had higher average HbA1c levels, independent of symptoms of depression.
The mean HbA1c among the participants was 65 mmol/mol (8.1%), with 21% reporting moderate to severe depressive symptoms and 36% reporting high diabetes distress.
Lead author Virginia Hagger, RN-CDE, MPH told Endocrine Today: “A greater proportion of adolescents reported elevated diabetes-related emotional distress, which in our study was more relevant to clinical outcomes than depression.
“For example, negative emotions about diabetes may lead to avoiding checking blood glucose or attending to diabetes while at school. Frustration or feeling guilty about self-care may increase distress.”
Hagger concluded by stating the importance of clinicians asking adolescent patients about any problems they face with their diabetes, and what management aspects they find most difficult.
“Effective interventions to prevent and reduce diabetes distress in adolescents are needed,” she said. “Adolescents are not easy to engage in self-management programs, so designing and evaluating effective, brief strategies that clinicians and/or parents can routinely implement is needed.”
The findings appear online in the journal Pediatric Diabetes.