Social support and lifestyle vs. medical diabetes self-management in the diabetes study of Northern California (DISTANCE)

Ann Behav Med. 2014 Dec;48(3):438-47. doi: 10.1007/s12160-014-9623-x.


Background: In chronic illness self-care, social support may influence some health behaviors more than others.

Purpose: Examine social support's association with seven individual chronic illness self-management behaviors: two healthy "lifestyle" behaviors (physical activity, diet) and five more highly skilled and diabetes-specific (medical) behaviors (checking feet, oral medication adherence, insulin adherence, self-monitored blood glucose, primary care appointment attendance).

Methods: Using cross-sectional administrative and survey data from 13,366 patients with type 2 diabetes, Poisson regression models estimated the adjusted relative risks (ARR) of practicing each behavior at higher vs lower levels of social support.

Results: Higher emotional support and social network scores were significantly associated with increased ARR of both lifestyle behaviors. Both social support measures were also associated with increased ARR for checking feet. Neither measure was significantly associated with other medical behaviors.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that social support diminished in importance as self-care progresses from lifestyle to more skilled "medical" behaviors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • California / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Support*