Emotional Coping and Its Effect on Diabetes Self-Care

Blood Glucose Testing, Exercise, and Diet

Distressed man with diabetes spelled out in letter blocks before himDiabetes certainly has an emotional impact on patients; however, there have not been many studies looking at the emotional approach to coping with diabetes—and how that can affect diabetes outcomes.  Therefore, researchers examined the intertwining of emotional coping, diabetes knowledge, medication adherence, and self-care behaviors.  Their study was done on adults with type 2 diabetes.

The article resulting from the research, “Associations between coping, diabetes knowledge, medication adherence and self-care behaviors in adults with type 2 diabetes,” was published online ahead of print on May 1, 2012.  It will appear in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry.

The study was done in the southeastern United States, and the researchers pulled data on 378 type 2 diabetes patients—all from 2 primary care clinics.

Using previously validated scales, the researchers measured coping, medication adherence, diabetes knowledge, and diabetes self-care behaviors.  (Diabetes self-care behaviors measured included foot care, blood glucose testing, physical activity, and diet.)

Then the researchers used multiple linear regression and assessed the independent effect of coping (as measured by emotional expression [EE] and emotional processing [EP]) on medication adherence and those self-care behaviors; this was done while controlling for relevant covariates.

There was a significant correlation between emotional coping and self-care behaviors.  Linear regression shows that EP was significantly associated with the following:

  • Medication adherence:  β -0.17; 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.32 to -0.015
  • Diabetes knowledge:  β 0.76; 95% CI 0.29-1.24
  • Diet:  β 0.52; 95% CI 0.24-0.81
  • Exercise:  β 0.51; 95% CI 0.19-0.82
  • Blood glucose testing:  β 0.54; 95% CI 0.16-0.91
  • Foot care:  β 0.32; 95% CI -0.02-0.67

EE was not associated with diabetes knowledge, but it was associated with:

  • Diet:  β 0.38; 95% CI 0.13-0.64
  • Exercise:  β 0.54; 95% CI 0.27-0.82)
  • Blood glucose testing:  β 0.42; 95% CI 0.09-0.76
  • Foot care:  β 0.36; 95% CI 0.06-0.66

This type 2 diabetes study and its results show that coping is significantly associated with improvements in self-care behavior that can lead to better diabetes outcomes—including, blood glucose testing, foot care, and exercise.

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