Family Matters in Diabetes Self-Care

Type 2 diabetes patients with perceived unsupportive family have poorer blood sugar control

(RxWiki News) Controlling your diabetes takes 24-hour focus and a helpful network of friends and family. The support of your loved ones can make a huge difference when it comes to your diabetes treatment.

People with type 2 diabetes may have worse blood sugar control if they think their family is unsupportive.

"Give support to your diabetic family members."

When it comes to managing any disease, including diabetes, you cannot do it alone. Not only is it important to have the guidance of a team of health care experts, but also the support of your family.

In a recent study, Vanderbilt University researchers Lindsay S. Mayberry, M.S. and Chandra Y. Osborn, Ph.D., M.P.H. wanted to explore the relationship between family members' behavior and diabetes knowledge and patients' blood sugar control.

More specifically, the researchers wanted to see how patients' blood sugar was affected by their perception of their family members' diabetes self-care knowledge and supportive and unsupportive behaviors.

In focus groups and through surveys, Drs. Mayberry and Osborn collected information on 106 adults with type 2 diabetes.

They found that patients were less likely to adhere to their medication plan if they thought their family members performed unsupportive behaviors. When patients did not stick to their medication plan, they had worse control of their blood sugar.

Patients thought their family members were more supportive when they also thought their family members knew more about diabetes. However, according to patients' perceptions, family members did not show fewer unsupportive behaviors if they were more knowledgeable about diabetes.

Participants in the study stressed how important it is to have the support of their family. They also said that unsupportive family behaviors sabotaged their efforts at self-care.

"Interventions should inform family members about diabetes and enhance their motivation and behavioral skills around not interfering with one's diabetes self-care efforts," the authors conclude.

The study is published in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

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Review Date: 
May 1, 2012