Diabetes distress higher among university students, US study reveals

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Depression and stress levels are higher among young people with diabetes who are starting university in the US, a study has shown.

Diabetes distress, a term used to describe when someone is struggling to manage their condition, was shown to be 27% higher among teenagers with type 1 diabetes.

For those with type 2 diabetes, more than 30% revealed they were feeling distressed around the time they started their higher education.

Overall, about 20% of the study participants displayed signs of major depressive disorder.

The researchers have highlighted the importance of proper support being afforded to students with diabetes, especially those who are believed to be experiencing extreme diabetes distress.

The trial involved more than 170 people with either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes who began attending a large university in the Midwest of the US.

They were asked to self-report how they felt, monitoring any signs of powerlessness, negative social perceptions, physician distress, hypoglycemia issues and eating problems using a scale between 1-6.

The research team discovered those with type 1 diabetes noted they struggled more with feelings of powerlessness. They also reported they were experiencing difficulty managing the condition and keeping on top of their diet.

Keeping up with the diabetes regimen and the emotional burden of having a chronic illness were the main diabetes distress issues among those with type 2.

Elizabeth Beverly, study researcher and associate professor of family medicine at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, said: “The findings highlight just how difficult it is to live with diabetes.”

The researchers also stated that the findings suggest emotional, physical and spiritual support must be included in treatment pathways for young people at university who have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Dr Beverley added: “The good news is universities are really well positioned to offer these resources. Universities that understand their students’ needs can provide appropriate supports that allow for better health and academic outcomes.”

The findings have been published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.





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