Objective. The study goal was to examine whether young adults with type 1 diabetes involve romantic partners in their illness, and, if so, how their involvement is related to relationship quality and psychological well-being.
Methods. A total of 68 people (mean age 25.5 years, [SD 3.7 years]) with type 1 diabetes (mean diabetes duration 6 years, [SD 6.7]) involved in a romantic relationship (mean relationship duration 25 months, [SD 27 months]) completed phone interviews. Communal coping (shared illness appraisal and collaborative problem-solving), partner supportive and unsupportive behavior, relationship quality, and psychological well-being were assessed with standardized measures. The study was partly descriptive in identifying the extent of communal coping and specific supportive and unsupportive behaviors and partly correlational in connecting communal coping and supportive or unsupportive behaviors to relationship quality and psychological well-being.
Results. Descriptive findings showed that partners were somewhat involved in diabetes, but communal coping was less common compared to other chronically ill populations. The most common partner supportive behaviors were emotional and instrumental support. The most common partner unsupportive behavior was worry about diabetes. Correlational results showed that communal coping was related to greater partner emotional and instrumental support, but also to greater partner overprotective and controlling behaviors (P <0.01 for all). Communal coping was unrelated to relationship quality or psychological distress. Partner overinvolvement in diabetes management had a mixed relation to outcomes, whereas partner underinvolvement was uniformly related to poor outcomes.
Conclusion. People with type 1 diabetes may benefit from increased partner involvement in illness. This could be facilitated by health care professionals.
- © 2017 by the American Diabetes Association.
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