Aims/hypothesis: There has been substantial interest in the association between psychosocial stress and risk of diabetes mellitus, but no data on the systematic quantification of the causal relationship have been published. This analysis aims to evaluate the association between adverse psychosocial factors and diabetes mellitus.
Methods: We performed a search of Medline, PsycINFO, Web of Science and PubMed up to July 2008. The studies included were prospective cohort studies investigating the association between adverse psychosocial factors and risk of diabetes mellitus.
Results: There were 22 relationships between psychosocial factors and disease-related factors (in 14 papers), of which 16 evaluated the associations of adverse psychosocial factors with diabetes control in diabetic populations and six evaluated the associations of adverse psychosocial factors with the incidence of diabetes in populations without any diagnosed diabetes. The overall meta-analysis demonstrated that adverse psychosocial factors were significantly associated with poor diabetes control (combined correlation coefficient, r = 0.096, p = 0.006), whereas adverse psychosocial factors were not associated with incident diabetes mellitus. More notably, sensitivity analyses showed that low social support was more robustly associated with poor diabetes control than stressful events per se or stress-prone personality or coping style, and that adverse psychosocial factors were associated with poor control of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Conclusions/interpretation: The current review revealed a detrimental association of psychosocial factors with the prognosis of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. However, any aetiological effect of adverse psychosocial factors remains elusive as a result of the small number of individuals enrolled in the cohorts studied.