Greater social support linked to lower diabetes distress, study says

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A perceived lack of support from family and friends can affect a patient’s ability to manage type 2 diabetes.

A new study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association(AOA) shows that community support may play a role in the management of diabetes.

According to a news release, a perceived lack of support from family and friends affects a patient’s ability to manage type 2 diabetes, as in vulnerable populations the necessary modifications to daily lifestyle can be difficult to maintain without social support.

The researchers found that as perceived social support increased, diabetes-related distress decreased. This distress can derail treatment, the release says.


“Too often diabetes treatment is understood as a simple process of taking medications and monitoring blood sugar,” Clipper Young, PharmD, MPH, associate professor and a clinical pharmacist at Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine, says in the release. “In reality, diabetes is a chronic condition that requires a great deal of mental and emotional energy, which when depleted, can impair care.”

The study of 101 patients was performed at Solano County Family Health Services Clinics in Vallejo and Fairfield, California. About 75 percent of the participants reported an annual income of less than $20,000, and they were all between the ages of 40 and 80, the release says.

With the significance of community support in treating diabetes, physicians are encouraged to, while treating the patient, also learning about their support systems to optimize management outcomes and reduce the risk of complications, the release says.

“This research signals that our opening conversation with patients should include a robust assessment of diabetes-related distress and perceived social support,” Young says in the release. “If that support is inadequate, we must think about how we can build it into their diabetes care plan.”