Glycaemic control deteriorates frequently in adolescents with diabetes. There is a considerable body of work on the effect of psychological aspects of management in this age group, but few randomized controlled trials of the effect of specific behavioural therapy and lifestyle modification on the improvement of glycaemic control. Of recent interest have been the observations from the Hvidøre Study Group on cross-cultural differences in glycaemic control. The average glycosylated haemoglobin in 22 centres, across 18 countries, varied in young people, with HbA1c levels ranging from 7.6 to 10.2%. No obvious differences in management were identified in this survey that could account for the disparities in glycaemic control. Data from the Scottish Study Group demonstrated similar variation in average glycaemic control in centres across a single culture. Using the qualitative methodology of anthropological research, some specific factors were identified that appear to influence young people's response to diabetes management and strategies employed by health professionals in their advice and care of the diabetes, particularly in relation to intensive insulin regimens. The main cultural factors influencing glycaemic control appear to be communication, reciprocal support between young people and professional heart carers and family structure within an individualistic, as against an egalitarian, society. Shared beliefs about teenage risk behaviour together with the medicalization of adolescence within medical culture also appears to be highly influential. The aim of this educational discussion group was to explore how a variety of health care professionals from distinctive cultures approach diabetes care delivery in this age group. The specific success and difficulties in different cultures in managing the young person with diabetes were investigated. Also discussed was how qualitative research methodology may generate further research in this area.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel