The term "brittle" is used to describe an uncommon subgroup of patients with type I diabetes whose lives are disrupted by severe glycaemic instability with repeated and prolonged hospitalization. Psychosocial problems are the major perceived underlying causes of brittle diabetes. Aim of this study is a systematic psychopathological and personological assessment of patients with brittle diabetes in comparison with subjects without brittle diabetes, using specific parameters of general psychopathology and personality disorders following the multi-axial format of the current DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders - IV Edition - Text Revised) diagnostic criteria for mental disorders. Patients comprised 42 subjects with brittle diabetes and a case-control group of 42 subjects with stable diabetes, matched for age, gender, years of education, and diabetes duration. General psychopathology and the DSM-IV-TR personality disorders were assessed using the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90-R) and the Structured Clinical Interview for axis II personality Disorders (SCID-II). The comparison for SCL-90-R parameters revealed no differences in all primary symptom dimensions and in the three global distress indices between the two groups. However, patients with brittle diabetes showed higher percentages in borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorder. In this study, patients with brittle diabetes show no differences in terms of global severity of psychopathological distress and specific symptoms of axis I DSM-IV-TR psychiatric diagnoses in comparison with subjects without brittle diabetes. Differently, individuals with brittle diabetes are more frequently affected by specific DSM-IV-TR cluster B personality disorders.
Keywords: Assessment; Brittle diabetes; Glycaemic instability; Personality disorder; Psychopathology.
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