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Diabet Med. 2007 Jan;24(1):48-54.

Association of diabetes-related emotional distress with diabetes treatment in primary care patients with Type 2 diabetes.

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MGH Diabetes Center, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.



To characterize the determinants of diabetes-related emotional distress by treatment modality (diet only, oral medication only, or insulin).


A total of 815 primary care patients with Type 2 diabetes completed the Problem Areas in Diabetes (PAID) Scale and other questions. We linked survey data to a diabetes clinical research database and used linear regression models to assess the associations of treatment with PAID score.


PAID scores were significantly higher among insulin-treated (24.6) compared with oral-treated (17.8, P < 0.001) or diet-treated patients (14.7, P < 0.001), but not different between oral- vs. diet-treated patients (P = 0.2). Group scores remained similar, but the statistical significance of their differences was reduced and ultimately eliminated after sequential adjustment for diabetes severity, HbA(1c), body mass index, regimen adherence, and self-blood-glucose monitoring. Insulin-treated patients reported significantly higher distress than oral- or diet-treated patients on 16 of 20 PAID items. 'Worrying about the future' and 'guilt/anxiety when ... off track with diabetes' were the top two serious problems (PAID >or= 5) in all treatment groups. Not accepting diabetes diagnosis was a top concern for oral- and diet-treated patients, and unclear management goals distressed diet-treated patients.


Primary care patients treated with insulin reported higher diabetes-related emotional distress compared with oral- or diet-treated patients. Greater distress was largely explained by greater disease severity and self-care burdens. To improve diabetes-specific quality of life, clinicians should address patients' sense of worry and guilt, uncertain acceptance of diabetes diagnosis, and unclear treatment goals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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