Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Emotional Distress Hinders Diabetes Self-Management

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Emotional Distress Hinders Diabetes Self-Management

Article excerpt


ORLANDO -- Emotional distress associated with a diabetes diagnosis explains many patients' difficulties with self-management, based on results from the DAWN2 study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

The Novo Nordisk-sponsored DAWN2 (Diabetes Attitudes Wishes and Needs 2) study included 15,438 adults from 17 countries: 8,596 were people with diabetes (1,368 with type 1 and 7,228 with type 2), 2,057 were family members of people with diabetes, and 4,785 were health care providers. The researchers set out primarily to determine the factors that prevent and facilitate active and successful diabetes management.

"The ultimate goal for all of us and for this study is to enable all people with diabetes to live full, healthy, and productive lives, and to be engaged in their own care, preserving their health, and improving their quality of life," said Martha Funnell, a certified diabetes educator, associate research scientist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a member of an advisory panel for the DAWN studies.

The first results from DAWN, published in 2005 and 2006, indicated that the psychosocial needs of patients with diabetes were not being met. The findings were based on the results of a survey that covered a broad range of topics, such as health and quality of life, attitudes and beliefs about diabetes, diabetes training, care and support, active self-management, and diabetes education and information. The first global benchmarking results were published in three articles in Diabetic Medicine (2013;30:767-98).

Although several themes emerged from the DAWN findings, those with respect to emotional health stand out. In response to those results, emotional well-being has been incorporated into standards of care, Ms. Funnell said. In DAWN2, slightly more patients reported experiencing ongoing emotional distress as a result of diabetes (45% vs. 43%); 14% likely had clinical depression as a result of their diagnosis.

The findings are concerning as emotional distress--feelings of anger, fear, frustration, sadness, and guilt--are among the biggest influencers of self-management. Further, diabetes-related distress has an adverse impact on outcomes, including hemoglobin [A.sub.1c] levels, dietary and exercise behaviors, quality of life, and depression, Ms. Funnell said.

Diabetes also affects other aspects of life: 44% of people with diabetes in DAWN2 said their finances were affected, 38% said leisure activities were affected, 35% said that work and studies were affected, and 21% reported problems with family and peer relationships.

"We have to address diabetes-related distress if we want our patients to make changes and improve their outcomes," she said.

Notably, 52% of health care providers in DAWN2 reported asking patients how their life was affected by diabetes, yet only 24% of patients said their health care provider asked them that question.

"If I was going to do a one-question educational assessment, that would be the question [I would ask] because that tells pretty much all I need to know to work with that person," Ms. Funnell said.

Other findings from DAWN2 included the following:

* Family members of diabetes patients are burdened by the disease as well; 39% said they wanted to be more involved and 37% said they did not know how to be more involved. …

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