Healthy coping: issues and implications in diabetes education and care

Popul Health Manag. 2010 Oct;13(5):227-33. doi: 10.1089/pop.2009.0065.


Psychological, emotional, and social factors not only impact quality of life, but also often play a role in chronic illness outcomes. Diabetes care, in particular, is greatly influenced by psychosocial factors when they hinder a person's ability to manage the disease and achieve metabolic control. Healthy coping, defined as responding to a psychological and physical challenge by recruiting available resources to increase the probability of favorable outcomes in the future, is essential to effective self-management by people with diabetes. In June 2009, the American Association of Diabetes Educators convened a multidisciplinary expert panel to discuss healthy coping in diabetes. The panel included diabetes educators and behavioral science and mental health professionals. Drawing on their knowledge and experiences, as well as information presented at the symposium, the panel probed several aspects of healthy coping including what it entails, common barriers, assessment, population diversity, and clinical applications. A team approach to addressing the patient's coping is critical. Team involvement relieves the diabetes educator of the entire burden of supporting the patient in this regard. The team should be broadly defined and include those who are formally and informally involved. Healthy coping is a complex, qualitative behavior that cannot be easily quantified. Future efforts to address the issue of healthy coping should add to the body of literature regarding diabetes self-management at the individual and population-based levels.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Disease Management*
  • Humans
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*