To evaluate whether the family system variables of adults with diabetes relate to the adequacy of metabolic control or the psychosocial adaptation to the illness.
A total of 150 insulin-requiring adults were assessed on a single occasion. They completed two family system measures (the Family Environment Scale [FES] and the Diabetes Family Behavior Checklist [DFBC]), two quality-of-life measures (the Diabetes Quality of Life Scale and the Medical Outcomes Study Health Survey-36), and one measure of cognitive appraisal (the Appraisal of Diabetes Scale). Glycemic control was assessed using HbA1c results. Demographic data (age, sex, diabetes type, duration of diabetes, and number of diabetes-related medical complications) were gathered from the patients' charts.
Concerning glycemic control, none of the family system measures were significant predictors of HbA1c. Older age and longer duration of diabetes predicted higher HbA1c values. For psychosocial adaptation, when family members behaved in ways that supported the diabetes care regimen (measured by the DFBC), the individual with diabetes was more satisfied with his or her adaptation to the illness and reported less interference in role function due to emotional problems. Family cohesion (measured by the FES) also related to better physical function. Women reported higher levels of diabetes satisfaction. The Appraisal of Diabetes Scale predicted glycemic control and psychosocial adaptation.
For insulin-treated adults with diabetes, family system variables do not relate to glycemic control, but they do relate to psychosocial adaptation. Future work should explore the impact of family-centered interventions on adaptation, sex differences in adaptation, and the use of the Appraisal of Diabetes Scale as a first-line clinical screening tool.