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Diabetes Educ. 2010 Jan-Feb;36(1):88-97. doi: 10.1177/0145721709352384. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Social Support to Empower Parents (STEP): an intervention for parents of young children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

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  • 1Graduate School of Nursing, University of Massachusetts, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.



The purpose of this study was to test the efficacy of a social support intervention with parents of children <13 years old newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).


For this randomized, controlled clinical trial, 10 parent mentors of children diagnosed with T1DM >or=1 year and 60 parent participants were recruited from 2 pediatric diabetes centers. Mentors were trained to provide social support (home visits and phone calls) for 12 months to families in the experimental arm (32 mothers). Control group parents (28 mothers) received the phone number of an experienced parent (not trained to give social support) to call as needed. Findings Mothers in the experimental and control arms differed at baseline only in birth order of the child with T1DM. The 2 groups did not differ significantly at 3, 6, or 12 months in parent concern, confidence, worry, impact on the family, or perceived social support. Mothers in the experimental arm identified the parent mentor as someone they would seek for advice and issues regarding growth and development, sleep, eating habits, and identification of community agencies. Parent mentors consistently referred mothers to health care providers for advice on medications and treatments but helped them incorporate this advice into day-to-day management.


Mothers in the experimental arm valued the mentors' help in adjusting to the diagnosis, but this value was not measured by the study instruments. Focus group research is under way to clarify the concept of parent mentor social support and to develop a social support measurement tool.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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