Effects of subclinical emotional and behavioral problems on metabolic control in adolescents with type 1 diabetes: Role of maternal and adolescent personality traits

Arch Pediatr. 2021 Oct 21;S0929-693X(21)00200-1. doi: 10.1016/j.arcped.2021.10.002. Online ahead of print.


Background: Personality traits of adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and those of their mothers may lead to poor glycemic control through psychiatric comorbidity. However, it is not yet known how the personality traits of adolescents with T1DM and those of their mothers affect metabolic control in the absence of or before the development of psychiatric disorders. We aimed to determine the effects of subclinical emotional and behavioral problems, as well as maternal and own personality traits, on metabolic control in adolescents with T1DM.

Methods: A total of 48 adolescents with diabetes (19 females and 29 males), with a median age of 14 years, who did not meet diagnostic criteria for a psychiatric condition, and their mothers completed the Junior Temperament and Character Inventory (J-TCI) as well as the adolescent and parent forms of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the TCI for adults. The mean HbA1c levels measured in the past year were obtained from medical records.

Results: Personality traits and the emotional and behavioral difficulties in adolescents with poor metabolic control were similar to those with good metabolic control (p>.05). However, the self-directedness and cooperativeness subscale scores of the TCI completed by the mothers of those in the poor metabolic control group were significantly lower than the others: 25.5 vs. 30.4; t(39)= 3.737, p= .001, and 27.3 vs. 31.5; t(46)= 2.759, p= .008; respectively.

Conclusion: Our study showed that adolescents' personality and subclinical symptoms were not related to HbA1c levels in the absence of psychiatric comorbidity, while some maternal personality traits were associated with metabolic control. Management of T1DM should be tailored to adolescents and their needs with the proper involvement of mothers.

Keywords: Adolescent; Metabolic process; Mothers; Personality; Type 1 diabetes.