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J Community Health. 2011 Oct;36(5):728-32. doi: 10.1007/s10900-011-9366-6.

The influence of social networks on patients' attitudes toward type II diabetes.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and MGH Revere Health Care Center, Revere, MA 02151, USA.


Social networks are increasingly recognized as important determinants of many chronic diseases, yet little data exist regarding the influence of social networks on diabetes. We surveyed diabetic patients to determine how social networks affect their overall level of concern regarding diabetes and its complications. We adapted a previously published instrument and surveyed 240 diabetic patients at two primary care practices. Patients recorded the number of family and friends who had diabetes and rated their level of concern about diabetes on a scale of 0% (no concern) to 100% (extremely concerned). Our primary outcome variable was patients' level of concern (<75% or ≥75%). We developed logistic regression models to determine the effect of disease burden in patients' social networks on expressed level of concern about diabetes. We received 154 surveys (64% response rate). We found that for each additional family member with diabetes, patients expressed a greater level of concern about diabetes (AOR 1.5; 95% CI 1.2-2.0) and its potential complications (AOR 1.4; 95% CI 1.1-1.7). Similarly, patients with an increased number of friends with diabetes expressed greater concern about diabetes (AOR 1.5; 95% CI 1.2-1.9) and its complications (AOR 1.3; 95% CI 1.1-1.7). Patients with a higher prevalence of diabetes within their social networks expressed greater concern about diabetes and diabetic complications. Determining disease burden within patients' social networks may allow physicians to better understand patients' perspectives on their disease and ultimately help them achieve meaningful behavioral change.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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