Cut Points for Identifying Clinically Significant Diabetes Distress in Adolescents With Type 1 Diabetes Using the PAID-T: Results From Diabetes MILES Youth-Australia

Diabetes Care. 2017 Nov;40(11):1462-1468. doi: 10.2337/dc17-0441. Epub 2017 Sep 7.


Objective: To establish cut point(s) for the Problem Areas in Diabetes-teen version (PAID-T) scale to identify adolescents with clinically meaningful, elevated diabetes distress.

Research design and methods: Data were available from the Diabetes Management and Impact for Long-term Empowerment and Success (MILES) Youth-Australia Study, a national survey assessing various psychosocial indicators among self-selected National Diabetes Services Scheme registrants. Participants in the current study (n = 537) were (mean ± SD) 16 ± 2 years old, had type 1 diabetes for 6 ± 4 years, and 62% (n = 334) were girls. They completed measures of diabetes distress (PAID-T) and depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire for Adolescents) and self-reported their most recent HbA1c and frequency of self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG). Relationships between the PAID-T and the psychological and clinical variables were examined to identify a clinically meaningful threshold for elevated diabetes distress. ANOVA was used to test whether these variables differed by levels of distress.

Results: Two cut points distinguished none-to-mild (<70), moderate (70-90), and high (>90) diabetes distress. Moderate distress was experienced by 18% of adolescents and high distress by 36%. Mean depressive symptoms, self-reported HbA1c, and SMBG differed significantly across the three levels of diabetes distress (all P < 0.001), with moderate-to-large effect sizes.

Conclusions: Using the PAID-T, this study defined two clinically meaningful cut points to distinguish none-to-mild, moderate, and high diabetes distress in adolescents (aged 13-19). Based on these cut points, most respondents experienced at least moderate diabetes distress, which was clinically significant. Establishing thresholds for elevated diabetes distress will aid clinicians and researchers to interpret PAID-T scores, prompt discussion and intervention for those with unmet needs, and enable the effectiveness of interventions to be evaluated.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / blood*
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A