New findings from diabetes research

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A lecturer at the University of Buckingham has discovered that the type of support given to young adolescents with Type 1 diabetes is not always helpful.

Type 1 diabetes (T1DM)is a condition where the pancreas does not produce insulin, a hormone which regulates blood sugar levels.

The condition is typically diagnosed around puberty, and, while it is incurable, it can be managed.

Without insulin, the body breaks down its own fat and muscle, so, people with Type 1 diabetes have to inject insulin at least once a day.

Controlling their blood sugar is a complex regime, which adolescents tend not to adhere to.

Recent findings suggest that young women and girls with T1DM are about 11 times more likely to die than the population at large, so care for these young people is a major public health concern.

Emily Doe, who is currently finishing her PhD in Health Psychology, investigated the role of peer support in younger people suffering from this lifelong disorder.

Emily’s research found there is a significant link between general social support and self care in people aged 15 to 18.

Her analysis suggests that young adolescents who received support specifically for their diabetes have poorer control over their blood sugar, as this type of support was considered by interviewees to be “nagging” and “hassling”.

But more general social support, such as feeling loved or cared for, had a positive effect on the youngsters’ glycaemic control, even though this support is independent of health.

One of Emily’s studies was presented at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology Conference in September, and the Independent Diabetes Trust have asked to publish the findings in their newsletter.

Emily hopes her findings will prompt a positive change in the role of support in how to manage the disease.

Full details of this study, entitled “They think it’s helpful, but it’s not”, will be published in the Spring edition of the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation issue.