Objective: To investigate the way that family stress influences glycemic control among patients with diabetes who are younger than 18 years of age.
Data sources: PubMed and Scopus were searched for relevant studies published since 1990 using the following key words: diabetes type 1, glycemic control, family stress, family conflict, and family function.
Study selection: In total, 1478 papers were identified in the initial search. The final review included 6 cohort studies, 3 cross-sectional studies, and 1 qualitative review in which family stress was assessed using specific diabetes-related conflict measurement instruments, and glycemic control was evaluated by glycosylated hemoglobin measurement.
Synthesis: In most studies family stress was negatively correlated with patients' glycemic control. Family function was strongly related to patients' glycemic control, while family conflict was adversely associated with glycemic control. Families of low socioeconomic status, those of adolescents with diabetes, and those of single parents were more prone to diabetes-related stress and thus more susceptible to worse glycemic control.
Conclusion: Therapeutic psychological interventions and educational programs can help alleviate family diabetes-related stress and will likely improve glycemic control.