Examining and identifying psychosocial barriers to type 2 diabetes management among adolescents key to reducing risk of complications

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Reports in pediatric clinics across the country indicate dramatic increases in type 2 diabetes mellitus in children and adolescents, particularly among minority populations. According to the CDC, youths with type 2 diabetes have poorer glycemic control, and may therefore be at higher risk for disease-related complications.

“We know very little about the psychosocial and family problems and barriers to diabetes management among adolescents with type 2 diabetes,” says Wendy Auslander, Ph.D., professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis. She is conducting a first of its kind study to identify these issues.

Wendy Auslander

“This will be a first step to developing behavioral strategies that would delay or reduce the risk of disease-related complications among adolescents with type 2 diabetes, and to prepare them for emerging adulthood.”

The purpose of the study is to identify resources and barriers to diabetes self-management and glycemic control among African American adolescents with type 2 diabetes. “Using qualitative interviews, we hope to learn more about the mother and child’s perceptions of their diabetes,” she says.

The study is being conducted at St. Louis Children’s Hospital with University colleagues Neil White, M.D., Jeanne Bubb, M.S.W., and Paul Sterzing, M.S.W.

Auslander notes that the burden of diabetes is further complicated by the fact that the health costs of many children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes are of lower incomes, and covered by Medicaid insurance.

“When they age out of pediatric care, they likely will no longer be eligible as young adults for this coverage, or have any insurance coverage at all,” she says.

Preliminary results will be available in April 2008.