Aims: Behavioural support around diabetes management tasks is linked to glycaemic outcomes. In this study we investigated the relationship between diabetes-related parental behaviours (conflict around and involvement in treatment tasks), adherence to blood glucose monitoring (BGM), and glycaemic control in youth with short duration Type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM).
Methods: In a cross-sectional study, 104 youth (aged 8-17 years, duration of Type 1 DM 0.5-6 years) along with a parent, completed the Diabetes Conflict Scale. Parental involvement in management tasks was assessed with structured interviews and the Diabetes Family Responsibility Questionnaire. Adherence to BGM was evaluated by family report and by independent clinician rating. Glycaemic control was assessed with glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) (ref. range, 4-6%).
Results: Children (8-12 years; n = 69) and adolescents (13-17 years; n = 35), respectively, had similar durations of diabetes (x +/- sd; 2.7 +/- 1.69, 2.4 +/- 1.32 years) and similar glycaemic control (8.3 +/- 1.1%, 8.4 +/- 1.1%). In both age groups, parental involvement was a significant predictor of adherence to BGM (P = 0.01). Multivariate analyses, controlling for age, sex, disease duration, and BGM adherence, revealed that higher diabetes conflict significantly related to poorer glycaemic control (HbA1c) (R2 = 0.17; P < 0.01).
Conclusions: These findings indicate that in this cohort, early in the course of diabetes, diabetes-specific conflict and adherence to BGM became strongly linked to the child's glycaemic control. This suggests that to insure optimal control, it may be beneficial to introduce targeted interventions to build positive family involvement and interaction around diabetes tasks early in the disease course, before negative behaviours become established.