Fear of hypoglycaemia in mothers and fathers of children with Type 1 diabetes is associated with poor glycaemic control and parental emotional distress: a population-based study

Diabet Med. 2010 Jan;27(1):72-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2009.02867.x.


Aims: To analyse, in a population-based study, the association between parental fear of hypoglycaemia and (i) the prevalence of hypoglycaemia and diabetes treatment factors in children with Type 1 diabetes and (ii) emotional distress in mothers and fathers.

Methods: Mothers (n = 103) and fathers (n = 97) of 115 children with Type 1 diabetes (1-15 years old) participated in the study. In addition to demographic and disease-specific data, the participants completed the Hypoglycaemia Fear Survey-Parent version (HFS-P) (worry and behaviour subscales) and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 items (HSCL-25) to measure emotional distress.

Results: A higher HFS-P worry score was associated with higher glycated haemoglobin (HbA(1c)), a higher frequency (>or= 7) of what parents experienced as problematic hypoglycaemic events during the past year and co-morbid disease in the child. A higher HFS-P behaviour score was associated with children receiving insulin injections compared with using an insulin pump and a higher frequency (>or= 7 per day) of blood glucose measurements. The mothers had higher scores than the fathers in both the worry and behaviour subscales. The mothers' and the fathers' HFS-P worry scores correlated significantly with their HSCL-25 scores.

Conclusions: The association between a higher level of hypoglycaemic-related fear and parental emotional distress and poorer glycaemic control in the child emphasizes the need for programmes to support and guide parents. The results suggest that future interventions should target both the parents' fear and appropriate ways to prevent hypoglycaemia in children with Type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health
  • Checklist
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology*
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / epidemiology
  • Hypoglycemia / etiology
  • Hypoglycemia / psychology*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin Infusion Systems
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*


  • Insulin