Family and Physician HbA1c Goals for Children with Type 1 Diabetes

How Parental Expectations Influence Health Outcomes

Female physician with family of four in the backroundParental goals for their children’s HbA1c levels and diabetes management may be associated with actual glycemic control in children and adolescents living with type 1 diabetes, according to the results of a study.

A team led by researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston explored both parental and physician goals for children’s blood glucose levels to determine how perceptions and expectations may influence health outcomes in youth with type 1 diabetes.

The study, “The impact of blood glucose and HbA1c goals on glycaemic control in children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes,” was published online ahead of print in November 2012. It appears in the journal Diabetic Medicine.

The researchers conducted a cross-sectional, observational study of children with type 1 diabetes and their parents. They examined data on the parents of 153 youth ranging in age from 8 to 16 years. On average, the children had been living with diabetes for about 6 years. Approximately 80% of the parents included in the study were mothers, and 56% of the children were female.

The parents filled out surveys about their own goals for their children’s blood glucose levels. They were also asked about their perceptions of their physicians’ goals for their children.

The results of the study showed that children’s actual HbA1c levels were significantly lower when parents reported lower goals. Additionally, parents tended to state goals that were highly aligned with their perceptions of their physicians’ goals.

The study authors conclude that their results demonstrate that parental goals may be linked to blood glucose outcomes in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. They argue that more research is needed to understand the relationship between parental perceptions of physician goals and physicians’ actual goals, and to illuminate the potential benefits of unified parent/physician goals in children’s health outcomes.

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