Parent-adolescent conflict, treatment adherence and glycemic control in Type 1 diabetes: the importance of adolescent externalising symptoms

Psychol Health. 2013;28(9):1082-97. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2013.782405. Epub 2013 Apr 8.


Parent-adolescent conflict has been demonstrated to relate to treatment adherence and glycemic control in adolescents with Type 1 diabetes. The present longitudinal study investigated how these variables were interrelated over time, and examined whether externalising and internalising symptoms function as mediating variables. A total of 109 adolescents with diabetes participated at four annual time points and completed measures on conflict with parents, internalising and externalising symptoms. Information on treatment non-adherence and glycemic control was obtained from treating physicians. Cross-lagged analyses from a structural equation modelling approach indicated that father-adolescent but not mother-adolescent conflict positively influenced treatment non-adherence over time, which, in turn, was associated with higher glycosylated haemoglobin-values. Further, externalising but not internalising symptoms were found to mediate the pathway from father-adolescent conflict to treatment adherence over time. Finally, mother-adolescent conflict was found to relate indirectly to treatment non-adherence through its relationship with externalising symptoms. Hence, the present longitudinal study provides evidence that externalising symptoms represent an important mechanism through which earlier experiences of parent-adolescent conflict may influence later treatment non-adherence and poorer glycemic control. Implications and suggestions for future research are outlined.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Child
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Time Factors


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A