Featured Article: Strengths-Based, Clinic-Integrated Nonrandomized Pilot Intervention to Promote Type 1 Diabetes Adherence and Well-Being

J Pediatr Psychol. 2019 Jan 1;44(1):5-15. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsy051.


Objective: Given persistent challenges achieving optimal diabetes outcomes in adolescence, new interventions to support disease self-management and emotional well-being are needed. Approaches that emphasize adolescents' positive behaviors and attitudes ("strengths") are designed to incorporate positive provider communications into clinical encounters to encourage youths' engagement in adherence behaviors and enhance well-being.

Methods: This pilot study tested the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of a brief, strengths-based behavioral intervention for adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Adolescents (age 12-17 years) and parents were recruited, consented, and completed baseline and postintervention questionnaires. There was no randomization to a control group, and all participants received the pilot intervention. At the start of two clinic visits, diabetes care providers followed a semi-structured script to reinforce adolescents' diabetes-related strengths and adherence behaviors.

Results: Of 116 eligible families, 84 consented and 64 completed baseline (M age = 15.0 ± 1.8 years, 56% female, 69% White, M HbA1c = 8.6 ± 1.6%). Providers reported the intervention usually (95%) took <10 min to deliver. Participants and providers enjoyed the intervention and would like to see it as part of routine clinical care. Pre-post data indicated significant improvements in youth-rated diabetes strengths, adherence, burden, and relationship with provider, parent-reported diabetes burden, and provider-rated relationship with family (p < .05). Objectively measured adherence and glycemic control did not change.

Conclusions: This brief strengths-based, clinic-integrated intervention was feasible to conduct and stakeholders were satisfied. This intervention holds promise to have a positive impact on adolescents' diabetes adherence, well-being, and provider relationships. Lessons were learned to improve implementation and participant experience for a larger study.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Blood Glucose*
  • Child
  • Communication
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / metabolism
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Patient Compliance
  • Pilot Projects
  • Self-Management*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin