A unique study could help parents understand what their child is feeling following a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.
Researchers from the University of Florida and Emory University gave disposable cameras to 40 type 1 adolescents aged 12 to 19. They were asked to take five photographs that captured what diabetes meant to them.
Among the demographic variables considered among participants were sex, age, race, glycemic control, socioeconomic status and disease duration.
Common diabetes supplies
The project, which ran from 2011 to 2015, resulted in 88 per cent of youths taking pictures of common diabetes supplies, such as needles, meters and insulin.
Roughly 50 per cent took pictures of bruises on their body, to demonstrate the daily pain of medicating. Over half also took at least one coping mechanism photo, such as a leisure activity – this was more prevalent among females, while male youths took more photos of food.
However, all the photos of extracurricular activities taken as coping mechanisms were by youths from households where the income was over $80,000.
Gender expectations
The researchers believe that socioeconomic status may be of benefit to affluent youths in managing their diabetes, while gender expectations could explain why artistic expression appeared less in the photos from male youths.
Researcher Ashby Walker explained: “While type 1 diabetes research has rightly focused on the causes of the disease and its national prevalence, there is a dire need for more research that addresses children’s basic perspectives on living with this disease.”
Desmond Schatz, Professor and Associate Chair of Pediatrics and the President-elect of the American Diabetes Associatio, addressed Walker’s findings, adding: “What she (Walker) found, through photographic depictio, was that the vast majority of patients identified food and preoccupation with food as one of the greatest challenges in day-to-day living with the disease, which may lead to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and poor blood glucose control.
“As such, her work highlights the critical need for all health care providers taking care of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes to address food-specific challenges on an ongoing basis.”

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