July 17, 2018
2 min read

Diabetes diagnosis leads patient’s partner to change health behaviors

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact customerservice@slackinc.com.

Julie Schmittdiel
Julie A. Schmittdiel

The partners of people recently diagnosed with diabetes were more likely to make health-related behavioral changes even without lifestyle interventions, according to findings recently published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

“Although a survey of patients in a community-based diabetes intervention suggests that family members of a person with diabetes do have a higher level of diabetes-related knowledge, it is not known whether such knowledge results in behavioral change,” Julie A. Schmittdiel, PhD, of the research division at Kaiser Permanente Northern California and colleagues wrote.

“Whether the health behaviors and health-screening behaviors of cohabiting spouses and partners of those with diabetes change when a diagnosis of diabetes is made within the household is unknown.”

Researchers analyzed 180,910 couples, of whom 30,155 had one member newly diagnosed with diabetes from 2007 to 2011 (mean age = 54.3 years, mean BMI = 29.4 kg/m2), and the other member did not. Neither member of the remaining 150,755 couples (mean age = 53.2 years, mean BMI = 27.8 kg/m2) had diabetes.

Schmittdiel and colleagues found when compared with the couples who had no diabetes diagnosis, the partner of the person with the diabetes diagnosis was more likely to:

  • undergo BP screening (RR = 1.02; 95% CI, 1.02-1.03);
  • receive an influenza vaccine (RR = 1.03; 95% CI, 1.02-1.04);
  • undergo lipid screening (RR = 1.05; 95% CI, 1.04-1.07);
  • lose at least 5% of their body weight (RR = 1.06; 95% CI, 1.02-1.11);
  • receive glucose testing (RR = 1.07; 95% CI, 1.05-1.8);
  • utilize smoking cessation medications (RR = 1.25; 95% CI, 1.05-1.5); and
  • partake in weight management–related health education classes (RR = 1.5; 95% CI, 1.39-1.63).

“We weren’t surprised by the findings since we believe family members can support each other to improve healthy lifestyles, and that there are significant opportunities to develop interventions that can improve family health overall,” Schmittdiel told Healio Family Medicine in an interview.

“These results could be relevant to many diseases where nutrition, exercise and other health behaviors may be similar among members within a household, or where members of a household might be motivated to work together to improve family health overall,” she added.

Schmittdiel also indicated the findings should encourage clinicians to “harness this teachable moment and identify interventions that can effectively reduce overall health risks in both partners.” – by Janel Miller

Disclosure: Schmittdiel reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.