Journal of Undergraduate Research


children with diabetes, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune disease




According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 13,000 young people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (CDC, 2008b). This autoimmune disease destroys the pancreatic cells that create insulin, a necessary hormone for carbohydrate metabolism. This disease affects every aspect of not only the child’s life, but also of the child’s parents and family (Moreira, H., Frontini, R., Bullinger, M. & Canavarro, M.C., 2013). When a child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, parents, alongside their child, must acquire a new repertoire of skills. Parents must become professionals at anticipating their child’s appetite and activity each day. They also must learn how to combat hyperglycemia and dangerous hypoglycemia when their child is ill. In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests parents may fight each day attempting to get their child to take on more responsibility for their own care. Many parents may also mention intense fear that the result of one poor choice on their part will forever scar their child with diabetes. Research shows that parents of children with type 1 diabetes experience significant stress leading to depression. While these symptoms are more significant at diagnosis, they are still present 1-4 years after the initial diagnosis (Whittemore, Jaser, Chao, Jang, & Gray, 2012). One study on the effect of support groups for children with type 1 diabetes and their parents, identified four main themes of interest; finding straight answers, making transitions, struggling with parenting, and connecting with others (Holtslander, Kornder, Letourneau, Turner, & Paterson, 2010). Many families with a child with type 1 diabetes face challenges that fall into these categories and would benefit from an organization that pools the professional and anecdotal guidance in one place. The purpose of this mixed qualitative and quantitative project is to determine if a monthly psychosocial support workshop affects the perception of diabetic control, parent-child relationship, and overall perception of parental stress of parents of type 1 diabetic children.

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