Two studies by T1D Exchange Patient-Centered Research illuminate the hidden challenges of daily blood sugar management. Combined, the studies provide evidence that many people experience emotional distress and disrupted sleep because of diabetes.
The results were shared in poster presentations this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) in Houston.
To gather this information, T1D Exchange researchers conducted a series of interviews with health care providers, people with type 1 diabetes, and caregivers of people with type 1 diabetes with the aim to understand the psychosocial components of life with type 1 diabetes. They found in the interviews that many people discussed experiencing diabetes distress, which can be described as frequent, negative diabetes-related emotional experiences. While health care providers also identified possible diabetes distress in their patients, they lacked formal screening tools for identifying this possible emotional issue.
The researchers also found in focus group discussions with people with type 1 diabetes and caregivers that good sleep was often in short supply for people with type 1 diabetes and caregivers of people with type 1 diabetes. Both groups reported waking up multiple times per night, losing sleep to blood sugar management and device alarms, and setting alarms to check and manage blood sugar at night and in the early morning.
Gathering information about the emotional aspects of life with type 1 diabetes can be extremely insightful and equally as important as the more concrete aspects of blood sugar management. Such information is important to help clinicians understand how best to support their patients, said Jeoff Bispham, Research Scientist.
“Emotional experiences related to diabetes are very normal and can affect people with type 1 diabetes and caregivers alike, but if it leads to burnout, it can begin to negatively impact things like sleep, diabetes management, and many other aspects of life.” Bispham said. “It is vital for clinicians to be aware of diabetes distress. Support from partners, family, and friends can also help reduce distress.”
This was one of several studies presented at the AADE meeting. You can view the others here.