diabetes, blood sugar, family and marital support


Family and marital support have been shown to be associated with better treatment adherence, illness adaptation, and blood sugar control in studies of individuals with diabetes. However, the behaviors and attitudes that describe appropriate support have not been defined. This is a qualitative study which asked couples who live with diabetes to define support. Seventy-four individuals (patients and spouses) participated in semi-structured interviews. Transcripts of these interviews were rigorously coded and analyzed by a team of researchers. A sampling of quotes is provided. Helpful behavior was particularly evident in the areas of dietary control and regimen specific support, general relational support, and reminders. Nonhelpful behaviors included nagging, problems with diet management, and poor communication. Descriptions of couple interactions highlighted issues related to independence and coping with hypoglycemia. These areas should be emphasized in interventions that are directed at helping spouses effectively support their partners who have diabetes.

Original Publication Citation

Trief, P., Sandberg, J., Greenberg, R., Graff, K., Catronova, N., Yoon, M., & Weinstock, R. (2003). Describing support: A qualitative study of couples living with diabetes. Families, Systems, and Health, 21(1), 57-67.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Families, Systems & Health




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor