A new American study has evaluated whether people living with diabetes are getting the support they would like, and the impact a shortfall in care could have.

The research, carried out by academics from the University of Utah, aimed to examine the ‘mismatch’ between the support people with diabetes actually receive and the level of support they want.

While social and partner support and self-management support can help people living with chronic illnesses such as diabetes to manage their condition, there can often be a mismatch between the social support required and delivered. A person’s psychological and physical wellbeing can be affected by their need for support.

Support mismatch in diabetes is an area which has not been researched in great detail. However, this latest study set out to find out more by using the data and medical records of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Researchers looked at blood pressure, body mass index and HbA1c, among other measures.

They then carried out a psychosocial and self-care survey and evaluated participants’ outcomes in terms of diabetes self-care, diabetes self-efficacy and diabetes distress. They also used a different score to assess support mismatch.

The findings revealed that around 42% to 52% of participants reported support mismatch across six areas. In addition, 23% to 34% of respondents perceived a support deficit in the management of their diabetes.

Furthermore, support deficits were linked to worse psychosocial and biophysical outcomes, while the support deficits were more prominent among women and those on insulin.

The authors concluded that the “findings indicate that greater support deficits can be a risk factor for some poorer physical and psychosocial health outcomes.”

The study has been published in the journal Patient Education and Counseling.

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