Psychosocial problems in adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus

Diabetes Metab. 2009 Nov;35(5):339-50. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2009.05.002. Epub 2009 Aug 22.


Adolescents with diabetes are at increased risk of developing psychiatric (10-20%) or eating disorders (8-30%), as well as substance abuse (25-50%), leading to non-compliance with treatment and deterioration of diabetic control. At high risk are female adolescents with family problems and other comorbid disorders. Impaired cognitive function has also been reported among children with diabetes, mainly in boys, and especially in those with early diabetes diagnosis (< 5 years), or with episodes of severe hypoglycaemia or prolonged hyperglycaemia. Type 1 diabetes mellitus contributes to the development of problems in parent-child relationships and employment difficulties, and negatively affects the quality of life. However, insulin pumps appear to improve patients' metabolic control and lifestyle. The contributions of family and friends to the quality of metabolic control and emotional support are also crucial. In addition, the role of the primary-care provider is important in identifying patients at high risk of developing psychosocial disorders and referring them on to health specialists. At high risk are patients in mid-adolescence with comorbid disorders, low socioeconomic status or parental health problems. Multisystem therapy, involving the medical team, school personnel, family and peer group, is also essential. The present review focuses on the prevalence of nutritional and psychosocial problems among adolescents with diabetes, and the risk factors for its development, and emphasizes specific goals in their management and prevention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / complications
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Mental Disorders / prevention & control
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology