Social support may help diabetes-related distress

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  • The distress experienced by diabetics, especially in less privileged communities, is understudied
  • Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires a great deal of mental and emotional energy
  • In a study, participants with increased social support experienced lower levels of diabetes-related distress

Diabetes is a complex condition that can seriously affect a patient's quality of life. The adjustments that need to be made to one’s daily life can be overwhelming and cause distress.

A group of researchers sought to investigate the association between diabetes-related distress and perceived social support in people with type two diabetes.

A chronic condition

In a cross-sectional study, researchers surveyed 101 individuals with type 2 diabetes. Patients were between 40 and 80 years old and had a lower socioeconomic status. The highest number of diabetes-related deaths occur in lower socioeconomic groups, and the distress experienced by these individuals as a result of the disease is understudied.

The research was conducted at Solano County Family Health Services Clinics in Vallejo and Fairfield, California, where participants were recruited when they came for medical appointments.

Researchers found that in cases where participants perceived that they had increased social support, levels of diabetes-related distress were lower.

Clipper Young, associate professor and a clinical pharmacist at Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine, stated: "Too often diabetes treatment is understood as a simple process of taking medications and monitoring blood sugar. In reality, diabetes is a chronic condition that requires a great deal of mental and emotional energy, which, when depleted, can impair care."

Comprehensive care

Researchers suggested that social support for sufferers of diabetes should be integrated into their care plans in order to decrease or completely alleviate the distress associated with managing the disease.

Concluding notes in the study stated, "Physicians have a central role in providing comprehensive, patient-centred, holistic care, and the attention to social support in chronic disease management can help remove barriers in providing optimal care."

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