Adolescents with type 1 diabetes are more likely to have better long-term health outcomes if they maintain good HbA1c levels and regularly check their blood glucose.
The study found these diabetes-related strengths provided resiliency during adolescence, a period of vulnerability for people with type 1 diabetes, and promoted positive diabetes outcomes.
“In the context of psychosocial and family risks, strengths appear to play a related but distinct role in self-management, glycemic control and general [quality of life],” said the researchers.
“Measuring youth strengths and discussing them as part of routine medical or psychosocial care may help providers guide youth and families in building on their existing capacities to overcome challenges.”
Scientists from Baylor College of Medicine used data from an Australian survey, the Diabetes MILES Youth Survey, to assess how significant diabetes strengths were among adolescents with type 1 diabetes.
A total of 471 adolescents were monitored who had a mean diabetes duration of seven years and a mean age of 16 years.
All of the participants had filled in surveys asking questions on diabetes outcomes such as self-monitoring blood glucose frequency and HbA1c levels, as well as general quality of life, family contact and depressive/anxiety symptoms.
The researchers then used the Diabetes Strengths and Resilience Measure for Adolescents (DSTAR-Teen) to assess the adolescents’ diabetes-related strengths.
Those who checked their blood glucose four or more times a day had higher DSTAR-Teen scores, as did those with HbA1c levels below 58.5 mmol/mol (7.5%) and a higher quality of life.
These strengths were found to be impactful in promoting optimal diabetes outcomes during the vulnerable adolescent years, even in the context of risk factors at individual and family levels.
The researchers added that more research is require to assess whether these strengths can help reduce or buffer other long-term diabetes risks.
The study has been published online in the journal Diabetes Care.

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