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J Pediatr Psychol. 2013 Mar;38(2):141-50. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jss102. Epub 2012 Sep 25.

What mom and dad don't know can hurt you: adolescent disclosure to and secrecy from parents about type 1 diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.



To examine how adolescent disclosure to and secrecy from parents were related to parental knowledge of diabetes management behaviors, and to adolescent adherence, metabolic control, and depressive symptoms.


A total of 183 adolescents with type 1 diabetes reported on disclosure to and secrecy from parents regarding diabetes management, adherence behaviors, depressive symptoms, and perceptions of parental knowledge. Mothers and fathers reported on their own knowledge.


Adolescent disclosure was associated with all reporters' perceptions of knowledge. Secrecy from both parents moderated the relationship between disclosure and adherence, and secrecy from fathers moderated the relationship between disclosure to fathers and glycosylated hemoglobin level. In all cases, disclosure was associated with better diabetes management only when secrecy was low. Finally, higher secrecy related to greater adolescent depressive symptoms.


Disclosure to parents appears to be an important component of how parents get their knowledge about adolescents' diabetes management, but may be most beneficial for diabetes management when it occurs together with low secrecy.

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