A novel behavioral intervention in adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus improves glycemic control: preliminary results from a pilot randomized control trial

Diabetes Educ. 2015 Apr;41(2):224-30. doi: 10.1177/0145721714567235. Epub 2015 Jan 22.

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to develop and pilot-test an innovative behavioral intervention in adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) incorporating structured care of a pet to improve glycemic control.

Methods: Twenty-eight adolescents with A1C > 8.5% (69 mmol/mol) were randomly assigned to either the intervention group (care of a Betta splendens pet fish) or the control group (usual care). Adolescents in the intervention group were given instructions to associate daily and weekly fish care duties with diabetes self-management tasks, including blood glucose testing and parent-adolescent communication.

Results: After 3 months, the participants in the intervention group exhibited a statistically significant decrease in A1C level (-0.5%) compared with their peers in the control group, who had an increase in A1C level (0.8%) (P = .04). The younger adolescents (10-13 years of age) demonstrated a greater response to the intervention, which was statistically significant (-1.5% vs 0.6%, P = .04), compared with the older adolescents (14-17 years of age).

Conclusions: Structured care of a pet fish can improve glycemic control in adolescents with T1DM, likely by providing cues to perform diabetes self-management behaviors.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring / psychology*
  • Child
  • Communication
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Pets / psychology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Self Care / psychology*

Substances

  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human