Efficacy of Diabetes Day Camp: Lessons for Better Serving Youth

By Hill, Eddie; Ramsing, Ron et al. | VAHPERD Journal, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Efficacy of Diabetes Day Camp: Lessons for Better Serving Youth


Hill, Eddie, Ramsing, Ron, Hill, Laura C., VAHPERD Journal


Background and Significance

Diabetes is considered to be one of the most psychologically and behaviorally demanding chronic illnesses facing adolescents (Cox & Gonder-Frederick, 1992). With no cure for diabetes on the immediate horizon, self-management has become the cornerstone of type 1 diabetes treatment (Mensing, et al., 2000). The ultimate goal for a youth diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is effective self-management combined with the support of parents, health-care professionals, and others that directly influence the youth's decision on how to manage their illness (Schilling, Grey, & Knall, 2002). However, considerable evidence suggests non-adherence to appropriate maintenance and management regimens could be as high as 93% (Coates & Boore, 1998). Youth with poor self-management are at higher risk of diabetes-related complications that may lead to physiological, psychological, and social problems.

Effective self-management has been shown to slow the onset and progression of health related complications (National Institute of Health, 2003) while increasing quality of life (Hoey, et al., 2001). Financial burdens have shown to be lessened by effective self-management. In 2002, the total annual economic cost of diabetes was estimated to be $132 billion or nearly 15% of health-care expenditures (American Diabetes Association, 2004). Fortunately, the benchmark study by the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial Research Group (1993) demonstrated that any sustained lowering of blood glucose helps with the prevention of diabetes-related complications and secondary illnesses. In addition, Sheldon. Williams, and Joiner (2003) found that providing autonomy supportive environments assisted individuals with diabetes to better self-manage their illness.

Autonomy Support

Related to diabetes. autonomy support (AS) entails working with youth, from their perspective, to promote engagement and ownership of particular behaviors (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Engagement and volition are achieved through providing choices, perspective-taking, and rationales, when necessary (Sheldon et al., 2003). Choice provision (at the parents' /practitioners' discretion) offers ownership to the individual making the decision. Perspective taking provides a sense of understanding, empathy, and acknowledgement of feelings from a participants' viewpoint. Finally. rationale provision provides justification for youth when restrictions are necessary. Effective rationale provision limits youths' perceptions of outside control by offering additional information in the decision making process. Research has shown that providing an autonomy supportive environment significantly promoted healthier behavior in persons with type 1 diabetes (e.g.. Sheldon et al.). The research on autonomy support has been furthered through investigations focusing on youth in recreation diabetes camps (Hill & Sibthorp. 2006; Ramsing, 2005).

Recreation Camps

Diabetes camps have long been considered beneficial to participants; both campers and family members. Historically, these camps have provided active mediums for recreation programming that allow for the realistic practice of exercise, glucose, diet, and injection control in an authentic setting that emulate day-to-day living for youth (i.e., self-management). In addition, campers have formed meaningful friendships with others who are coping with the similar daily struggles of living with diabetes. However. until recently, the impact of diabetes camps has had limited empirical evidence (Hill & Sibthorp, 2006; Sibthorp, Paisley, & Hill, 2003). Therefore, the purpose of the study was to determine the impact of a diabetes day camp on diabetes competence, camper relatedness, camper satisfaction, and perceptions of autonomy support from parents.

Methods

During the summer of 2006, data were collected at a vacation diabetes day camp in Southeastern Virginia. …

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