Children with diabetes compared to peers: depressed? Distressed? A meta-analytic review

Ann Behav Med. 2011 Aug;42(1):29-41. doi: 10.1007/s12160-011-9262-4.


Background: It is not clear from the literature whether children with diabetes have more psychological difficulties than their peers.

Purpose: This study aims to use meta-analysis to determine if children with diabetes differ from children without a chronic illness in a variety of domains reflecting psychological well-being.

Method: A meta-analysis was undertaken of 22 studies that compared children with diabetes to a comparison group. Outcomes included depression, anxiety, behavioral problems, and related constructs.

Results: Children with diabetes were more likely than comparison groups to experience a variety of psychological difficulties. However, these effects were small to medium in magnitude and were typically smaller among more recent studies and studies with well-matched comparison groups.

Conclusions: This meta-analysis suggests that children with diabetes are at slightly elevated risk for psychological difficulties. Future work will need to help identify children at the highest risk, and to identify factors associated with resilience.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Child
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Diabetes Complications / complications
  • Diabetes Complications / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Peer Group*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*