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J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2008 Apr;29(2):101-5. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e31815f24ce.

Observational assessment of family functioning in families with children who have type 1 diabetes mellitus.

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  • 1Division Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229-3039, USA.



Children with type 1 diabetes mellitus have a complex treatment regimen that includes insulin therapy and dietary requirements (e.g., matching insulin and carbohydrate intake). Previous research has shown that parents of children with type 1 diabetes mellitus report significant mealtime challenges and higher parenting stress compared to parents of healthy controls. The objective of the current study was to compare family functioning in children with type 1 diabetes mellitus (ages 2-8) to a matched, healthy control sample. Sixty-six families (33 diabetes; 33 controls) participated in a home visit at which their evening meal was videotaped. Tapes were then coded using the McMaster Interaction Coding System to objectively assess family functioning.


Results indicated that families in the diabetes group demonstrated significantly poorer family functioning in a majority of areas (communication, affect management, family roles, overall functioning) compared to the healthy control sample. Additionally, families with lower socioeconomic status and families of male children evidenced poorer overall family functioning for both groups.


Results also suggest that family-focused interventions for young children with type 1 diabetes should include components targeting family functioning in the areas of communication, affect management, and family roles.

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