Family Environment, Glycemic Control, and the Psychosocial Adaptation of Adults With Diabetes

  1. Ruth S Weinstock, MD, PHD
  1. Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York Health Science Center Syracuse, New York
  2. Department of Family Medicine, State University of New York Health Science Center Syracuse, New York
  3. Department of Medicine, State University of New York Health Science Center Syracuse, New York
  4. Joslin Center for Diabetes, State University of New York Health Science Center Syracuse, New York
  5. Veterans Administration Medical Center Syracuse, New York
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Paula Trief, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Health Science Center, 750 E. Adams St., Syracuse, NY 13210. E-mail: triefp{at}vax.cs.hscsyears.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To evaluate whether the family system variables of adults with diabetes relate to the adequacy of metabolic control or the psychosocial adaptation to the illness.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS A total of 150 insulin-requiring adults were assessed on a single occasion. They completed two family system measures (the Family Environment Scale [FES] and the Diabetes Family Behavior Checklist [DFBC]), two quality-of-life measures (the Diabetes Quality of Life Scale and the Medical Outcomes Study Health Survey-36), and one measure of cognitive appraisal (the Appraisal of Diabetes Scale). Glycemic control was assessed using HbA1c results. Demographic data (age, sex, diabetes type, duration of diabetes, and number of diabetes-related medical complications) were gathered from the patients' charts.

RESULTS Concerning glycemic control, none of the family system measures were significant predictors of HbA1c. Older age and longer duration of diabetes predicted higher HbA1c values. For psychosocial adaptation, when family members behaved in ways that supported the diabetes care regimen (measured by the DFBC), the individual with diabetes was more satisfied with his or her adaptation to the illness and reported less interference in role function due to emotional problems. Family cohesion (measured by the FES) also related to better physical function. Women reported higher levels of diabetes satisfaction. The Appraisal of Diabetes Scale predicted glycemic control and psychosocial adaptation.

CONCLUSIONS For insulin-treated adults with diabetes, family system variables do not relate to glycemic control, but they do relate to psychosocial adaptation. Future work should explore the impact of family-centered interventions on adaptation, sex differences in adaptation, and the use of the Appraisal of Diabetes Scale as a first-line clinical screening tool.

  • Received June 5, 1997.
  • Revision received October 21, 1997.
  • Accepted October 21, 1997.
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