A profile of self-care behaviors in emerging adults with type 1 diabetes

Diabetes Educ. Mar-Apr 2013;39(2):195-203. doi: 10.1177/0145721713475840. Epub 2013 Feb 8.


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to characterize daily diabetes self-care behaviors and to evaluate associations among self-care behaviors, psychosocial adjustment, and glycemic control in an understudied sample of emerging adults with type 1 diabetes.

Methods: Forty-nine emerging adults (65% women; ages 18-26 years) completed 2 diabetes interviews to assess self-care behaviors and self-report measures of psychosocial adjustment. Glycemic control was assessed via hemoglobin A1C.

Results: Diabetes self-care behaviors varied widely and were largely suboptimal; only a small percentage of participants demonstrated self-care behaviors consistent with national and international recommendations. Psychosocial adjustment was within normal limits and was unrelated to frequency of self-care behaviors in this sample. Mean glycemic control (8.3%) was higher than the recommended A1C level (< 7.0%) for this age group. Use of intensive (e.g., multiple daily injections or pump) insulin regimens was related to better glycemic control.

Conclusions: The majority of emerging adults in this sample did not engage in optimal daily diabetes self-care. Intensive insulin therapy was associated with better glycemic control without corresponding psychosocial distress. Diabetes care behaviors could be improved in this age group, and emerging adults may benefit from targeted education and behavioral support to enhance diabetes self-management and optimize health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring / psychology
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring / standards*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology
  • District of Columbia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence
  • Motor Activity
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Care* / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human