Diabetes is a chronic health condition that requires a great deal of mental and emotional energy, and even support from friends and family. New research published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association has revealed just how important it is to have a healthy support network for those with diabetes.
The study found that in diabetes populations who had social support, diabetes-related distress decreased. However, the necessary modifications to daily lifestyle were more difficult to maintain due to inadequate social support among vulnerable populations.
The study was conducted at Solano County Family Health Services Clinics in Vallejo and Fairfield, California. It involved 101 participants who were between the ages of 40 and 80 years old and approximately 75% reported an annual income of less than $200,000. Established clinical tools were used to measure perceived social support and perceived distress related to diabetes.
It was found that diabetes-related mortality and morbidity were the highest among people with lower socioeconomic status. As one of the first studies of its kind, this investigation of the nature of diabetes in diverse populations has found a relationship between a healthy support network and the management of type 2 diabetes.
Many people believe that managing diabetes is a simple process that involves taking medication and monitoring blood sugar. However, in reality, diabetes is a complex condition that requires many treatments, which, if not handled correctly, can have dire consequences.
Strong Support System
“Strong social support supplements effective diabetes self-management behaviors which, in turn, may reduce the risks of diabetes-related hospitalization and death,” said associate professor Clipper Young, PharmD, MPH. “This research signals that our opening conversation with patients should include a robust assessment of diabetes-related distress and perceived social support. If that support is inadequate, we must think about how we can build it into their diabetes care plan.”
This study was able to shine a light on the role that social support has on diabetes-related distress and clinicians’ need to address this in their patients. Researchers highly encourage physicians to focus on providing medical care and learning about their patient’s support system to ensure optimal diabetes management. With a secure support network, diabetes patients are able to reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.
With more than 26 million Americans who have diabetes and 54 million with pre-diabetes, studies such as this are essential to understand all aspects of the condition. Managing a chronic illness goes beyond simply taking medication, and this research helps those understand that environment and lifestyle also play a key role in treatment.
Having a healthy support community for diabetes means having those around who know about the condition’s needs and requirements. Diet and exercise are major components when dealing with diabetes, and having those around who are willing to help with this can go a long way to ensuring success.