PHILADELPHIA — A national education and social support program for young adults with diabetes improved quality of life and HbA1c levels among participants, according to researchers from the University of South Florida College of Public Health.
The program – Students With Diabetes – “functions as a student organization on both campuses and in community settings. The program is based on social marketing principles. The underlying premise is that social support can improve disease outcomes and quality of life,” they wrote in their poster.
Researchers evaluated the program using a convenience sub-sample of members at four chapters: University of South Florida (n=13), University of Central Florida (n=20), University of Florida (n=8) and Butler University (n=6). Seventy-seven percent of participants were female.
The three main goals of the program are to:
- Socially connect young adults with diabetes;
- Create a social safety net for young adults with diabetes; and
- Provide fun, convenient, relevant, socially acceptable diabetes education.
According to their findings, 88% of participants said the program made them feel more positive about their future, 81% feel more confident managing their disease after participating in the program and 66% had more than one distressing diabetes-related social interaction in the last month.
Additionally, self-conscious feelings about diabetes decreased from 17% to 9%; feeling unsupported by family and friends decreased from 27% to 14% and 69% of participants had lower HbA1c levels compared with baseline after 1 year.
Researchers said a trend in improved HbA1c levels drives home the increased motivation to maintain a healthier lifestyle due to innovative social engagement reported by students.
“Programs for young adults should provide relevant education and encourage social connections,” they wrote. “College health centers and regional diabetes centers should add Students With Diabetes chapters to support young adults during this transition phase.” – by Stacey L. Adams
For more information:
Johnson N. #R53. Presented at: AADE Annual Meeting and Exhibition; August 7-10; Philadelphia.
Disclosures: The study was supported by The Patterson Foundation.