Adults with type 2 diabetes are five times more likely to have lower quality of life and less social interaction in the first five years after diagnosis compared to those without the condition, an Australian study reports.
Scientists from the University of Wollongong in New South Wales say their findings highlight the importance of social support in preventing mental health decline in people with type 2 diabetes.
“Circumstances such as whether a person feels they can draw on the support of a social network … do play an important role in mental health trajectories as well as all other aspects of life,” said co-senior authors Xiaoqi Feng, PhD, and Thomas Astell-Burt, PhD, whose findings appear online in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care.
“These are circumstances that also likely play a role in shaping whether people are able to adhere to lifestyle modification programs, pharmacotherapy regimens, and the regular visits to general practitioners that are a staple of [type 2 diabetes] management.”
Data was analysed from 26,344 adults without diabetes between 2006 and 2009, with self-completed surveys conducted between 2010 and 2011.
The researchers examined six variables: psychological distress, self-reported quality of life, time spent with family or friends, talking to family or friends of the phone, attending group or social meetings, and how many people the participants felt they could rely on.
In total, 586 new diagnoses of type 2 diabetes were made during follow-up, which was associated with a fivefold increase in the odds of a participant’s reporting their quality of life had become significantly poorer.
Diagnosis was also linked with a reduction in time spent with family and friends, contact by telephone, attendance at social gatherings and people outside the home participants relied on. No significant relationship was observed regarding psychological distress.
“Declining quality of life and increasing social isolation among people who are recently diagnosed with [type 2 diabetes] are scenarios that ought to be monitored closely by general practitioners and the local health sector if devastating and hugely expensive, but preventable comorbidities and complications are to be successfully avoided,” said the researchers.
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