Diabetes camp still matters: Relationships with diabetes-specific distress, strengths, and self-care skills

Pediatr Diabetes. 2019 May;20(3):353-360. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12836. Epub 2019 Mar 24.


Objective: Prior studies suggest diabetes camps improve psychosocial well-being in youth with type 1 diabetes but these studies suffer from variable levels of rigor. The present study assessed associations between camp participation and diabetes distress, perceived independence in diabetes self-care, and diabetes strengths in a large sample of children, adolescents, and their parents across 44 camps in the United States. Analyses compared viewpoints of study participants, identified moderators of change, and assessed perceived benefits of camp participation.

Methods: There were 2488 youth and 2563 parents consented for participation in the online survey. Participants reported diabetes distress and perceived independence in youth care, their new experiences and best parts of camp, and changes in behavior following camp. T-tests, regressions, Cohen's d, and relative frequencies were used as appropriate to assess baseline differences between reporters, pre-post outcome differences, and moderators of change.

Results: Parents as compared to youth reported higher pre-camp distress and lower perception of youth independence in self-care. Youth experienced a statistically significant decrease in distress and increase in independence in self-care. Diabetes strengths did not change. Higher A1c prior to camp was associated with higher levels of distress across camp participation. Campers and their parents endorsed a high frequency of positive firsts, bests, and benefits of camp.

Conclusions: Data from a large sample youth with type 1 diabetes across multiple camps showed broad-based psychosocial benefits of camp participation.

Keywords: camp; diabetes distress; diabetes strengths.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health
  • Camping*
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Perception / physiology
  • Self Care* / psychology
  • Self Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology