Objective: This study investigated the quality of life and the demographic, medical-history, and self-management characteristics associated with it.
Research design and methods: A diabetes self-management survey was sent to 2,800 adults with diabetes throughout the U.S. who were part of a marketing company national sample. The response rate was 73%. The final sample of 2,056 persons was heterogeneous: the average age was 59 years (range, 18-92 years); 53% had high school education or less; 86% had type II diabetes; 62% were female; and 31% reported being on an intensive management plan, such as the one used in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial. Quality-of-life items included the social, physical, and mental health dimensions of the Short Form (SF-20) of the General Health Survey.
Results: Overall, respondents reported a moderate to low quality of life, relative to previous studies. Factors related to lower quality of life included: less education, lower income, older age, being female, type of health insurance (no medical insurance or Medicare/Medicaid recipients reported lower quality of life than those with either a health maintenance organization or private insurance), number of diabetes complications, number of comorbid illnesses, and lower levels of physical activity. Multiple regression analyses revealed that the level of self-reported exercise was the only significant self-management behavior to predict the quality of life, after controlling for demographic and medical variables.
Conclusions: If the findings regarding physical activity are replicated, it may be that moderate-intensity physical activity programs could be initiated with diabetic individuals at risk of low quality of life. Quality of life is an important and understudied topic in diabetes that appears to be related to demographic, medical-history, and self-management factors.