Objective: To examine the relationship between stressful life events and alterations in glycemic control in adults with diabetes.
Research design and methods: The occurrence of stressful experiences was recorded using the life Events and Difficulties Schedule of Brown and Harris in 55 adults with type 1 diabetes. The two most recent measures of glycemic control (HbA1c) were obtained from medical records, with poor glycemic control defined by the sample median (> or =7.7%).
Results: Subjects whose control deteriorated over time or who remained in poor glycemic control were significantly more likely to report severe personal stressors (SPS) in the month before HbA1c measurement, compared with subjects whose control remained fair or whose control improved (43 and 25% vs. 7 and 0%; P = 0.000). Subjects whose control remained fair or whose control improved were significantly more likely to report only positive life events during the same time period (80 and 11% vs. 0 and 0%, respectively; P = 0.000). Multiple regression analysis demonstrated that SPS, sex, and lack of further education were all significantly associated with either remaining in poor control or deterioration of control.
Conclusions: The study has shown that recent severe stressors are associated with poorer glycemic control. Positive life events were associated with fair or improved glycemic control. This study has its limitations, and future studies should be prospective in design. While it is not always possible to avoid stress, learning to recognize and cope with stressors may help individuals with diabetes maintain good glycemic control and improve overall quality of life.