Impact of Type 1 Diabetes Technology on Family Members/Significant Others of People With Diabetes

J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2016 Jun 28;10(4):824-30. doi: 10.1177/1932296816645365. Print 2016 Jul.


Background: The aim was to explore the impact of diabetes-related technology to ensure that such devices are used in a way that returns maximum benefit from a medical and psychological perspective.

Method: Spouses and caregivers of people with type 1 diabetes were invited to complete an online questionnaire about their experiences with diabetes technologies used by their family members. Participants were recruited via the Glu online community website. Questions explored impact on daily living, frequency and severity of hypoglycemia, and diabetes-related distress.

Results: In all, 100 parents/caregivers and 74 partners participated in this survey. Average (mean) duration of living with a person with type 1 diabetes was 16 years (SD = 13) for partners, with duration of diabetes for children being 4.2 ± 3.2 years. Average duration of current therapy was 8.3 ± 7.3 years for adults and 3.4 ± 2.9 years for children. Of the participants, 86% partners and 82% parents/caregivers reported diabetes technology had made it easier for their family members to achieve blood glucose targets. Compared to partners, parents/caregivers reported more negative emotions (P < .001) and decreased well-being (P < .001) related to their family members type 1 diabetes. Diabetes-related distress was common, as was sleep disturbance associated with device alarms and fear of hypoglycemia. Reduced frequency and severity of hypoglycemia related to device use was reported by approximately half of participants.

Conclusion: There is little doubt about the medical benefit of diabetes technologies and their uptake is increasing but some downsides were reported. Barriers to uptake of technologies lie beyond the mechanics of diabetes management. Supporting users in using diabetes technology to achieve the best possible glycemic control, in the context of their own life, is crucial. Furthermore, understanding these issues with input from the type 1 diabetes community including family members and caregivers will help innovation and design of new technology.

Keywords: CGM; CSII; diabetes technology; psychosocial burden; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring / psychology*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1* / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Infusion Systems
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult