Depression as a predictor of hypoglycemia worry in parents of youth with recent-onset type 1 diabetes

Pediatr Diabetes. 2020 Aug;21(5):909-916. doi: 10.1111/pedi.13039. Epub 2020 May 29.


Background: During the recent-onset period of type 1 diabetes (T1D), parents may be at increased risk for depression, stress, and hypoglycemia fear; however, current studies have not examined the parental psychological experience and anxiety from hypoglycemia fear (ie, hypoglycemia worry) over time. This study examined the trajectory of parental hypoglycemia worry (Hypoglycemia Fear Survey-Worry [HFS-Worry]) in families of children with recent-onset T1D and the effects of baseline parental depression on parents' trajectory of HFS-Worry.

Methods: We enrolled 128 families of children ages 5- to 9-years-old with recent onset T1D in this study. At baseline, 125 parents completed measures of depression and HFS-Worry, followed by 111 at 6-month follow-up, 113 at 12-month follow-up, and 107 at 18-month follow-up. We used multilevel modeling to examine the 18-month trajectories of HFS-Worry and to examine if parental depression modified these trajectories.

Results: We found that parents HFS-Worry scores increased over time for parents with and without elevated depressive symptoms. Parents' baseline report of depression appeared to modify their trajectory of HFS-Worry over time such that parents with elevated depressive symptoms reported significantly higher levels of worry when compared to parents without depressive symptoms across the 18-month study period (P < .05).

Conclusions: Parents of children with recent-onset T1D, who reported elevated depressive symptoms, reported higher HFS-Worry across the study period. Our findings suggest clinics should consider screening for parent depression and hypoglycemia worry following a T1D diagnosis. Integrating psychological screening for parents could help clinics to provide relevant treatment resources and tailor diabetes education for parents. Trial Registration NCT03698708.

Keywords: depression; hypoglycemia worry; parents; recent-onset; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology*
  • Fear / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Prognosis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology

Associated data