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Youths With Diabetes Have Higher Psychiatric Morbidity

Degree of emotional health problems in those with type 1 diabetes may be tied to metabolic control

FRIDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Young people with type 1 diabetes report levels of psychosocial well-being at diagnosis similar to those of their peers without diabetes, but over time they are more likely to experience higher rates of psychiatric morbidity and lower rates of school completion, and there may be an association between mental/emotional distress and poor metabolic control, according to research published in the July issue of Diabetes Care.

Elisabeth A. Northam, Ph.D., of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues examined psychosocial variables at diagnosis and functional outcomes 12 years later in 110 subjects with type 1 diabetes (mean age, 20.7 years) and 76 controls (mean age, 20.8 years).

The researchers found that the groups reported similar current well-being status, but the youths with type 1 diabetes had mental health referral rates 19 percent higher and school completion rates 17 percent lower than their peers without diabetes over the 12 years since diagnosis. More than a third of the diabetes patients were not currently receiving specialist care, and this group reported higher past mental health service usage and lower current psychosocial well-being. Among the diabetes group, high activity levels, behavior problems, and low family cohesion at diagnosis were predictors of lower current well-being, though they were not linked to metabolic control history. However, poorer metabolic control was linked to higher use of mental health services.

"Type 1 diabetes participants report similar levels of current psychosocial well-being compared with control subjects, but higher levels of psychiatric morbidity since diagnosis and lower school completion rates. Psychiatric morbidity was associated with poor metabolic control and failure to transition to tertiary adult diabetes care," the authors write.

A co-author disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

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