Assessment of Diabetes-Related Distress
- William H Polonsky, PHD,
- Barbara J Anderson, PHD,
- Patricia A Lohrer, BA,
- Garry Welch, PHD,
- Alan M Jacobson, MD,
- Jennifer E Aponte, BA and
- Carolyn E Schwartz, SCD
- Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts
- Center for Neurological Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts
- Address correspondence and reprint requests to William H. Polonsky, P.O. Box 2148, Del Mar, CA 92014.
OBJECTIVE To describe a new measure of psychosocial adjustment specific to diabetes, the Problem Areas in Diabetes Survey (PAID), and to present initial information on its reliability and validity.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Before their routine clinic appointments, 451 female patients with type I and type II diabetes, all of whom required insulin, completed a self-report survey. Included in the survey was the PAID, a 20-item questionnaire in which each item represents a unique area of diabetes-related psychosocial distress. Each item is rated on a six-point Likert scale, reflecting the degree to which the item is perceived as currently problematic. A total scale score, hypothesized to reflect the overall level of diabetes-related emotional distress, is computed by summing the total item responses. To examine the concurrent validity of the PAID, the survey also included a series of standardized questionnaires assessing psychosocial functioning (general emotional distress, fear of hypoglycemia, and disordered eating), attitudes toward diabetes, and self-care behaviors. All subjects were assessed for HbA1, within 30 days of survey completion and again ∼ 1–2 years later. Finally, long-term diabetic complications were determined through chart review.
RESULTS Internal reliability of the PAID was high, with good item-to-total correlations. Approximately 60% of the subject sample reported at least one serious diabetes-related concern. As expected, the PAID was positively associated with relevant psychosocial measures of distress, including general emotional distress, disordered eating, and fear of hypoglycemia, short- and long-term diabetic complications, and HbA1, and negatively associated with reported self-care behaviors. The PAID accounted for ∼ 9% of the variance in HbA1. Diabetes-related emotional distress, as measured by the PAID, was found to be a unique contributor to adherence to self-care behaviors after adjustment for age, diabetes duration, and general emotional distress. In addition, the PAID was associated with HbA1 even after adjustment for age, diabetes duration, general emotional distress, and adherence to self-care behaviors.
CONCLUSIONS These findings suggest that the PAID, a brief, easy-to-administer instrument, may be valuable in assessing psychosocial adjustment to diabetes. In addition to high internal reliability, the consistent pattern of correlational findings indicates that the PAID is tapping into relevant aspects of emotional distress and that its particular feature, the measurement of diabetes-related emotional distress, is uniquely associated with diabetes-relevant outcomes. These data are also consistent with the hypothesis that diabetes-related emotional distress, separate from general emotional distress, is an independent and major contributor to poor adherence. Given that the study was limited to female patients using insulin, further examination of the clinical usefulness of the PAID will need to focus on more heterogeneous samples.
- Received May 2, 1994.
- Revision received January 25, 1995.
- Accepted January 25, 1995.
- Copyright © 1995 by the American Diabetes Association