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Diabet Med. 2012 May;29(5):654-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2011.03485.x.

Social support and self-management behaviour among patients with Type 2 diabetes.

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Steno Health Promotion Center, Steno Diabetes Center, Gentofte, Denmark.



To investigate the relationship between structural and functional social support and patient activation, diabetes-related emotional distress, perceived diabetes care, self-management behaviour and HbA(1c) levels among patients with Type 2 diabetes.


Self-administered questionnaires were collected from 2572 patients with Type 2 diabetes. After adjusting for gender, age and education, Tobit and logistic regression models were used to examine associations between social network and patient activation, psychosocial problems, self-management behaviours and HbA(1c) levels.


Frequent contact with friends was associated with more positive scores for activation, fewer psychosocial problems, more positive assessment of care and health-promoting self-management behaviours such as frequent exercising and frequent foot examinations. Frequent contact with family was associated with more positive assessments of care. Living with a partner was associated with lower prevalence of smoking, a higher frequency of foot examinations and higher HbA(1c) levels. A poor functional social network, measured as perceived lack of help in the event of severe illness, was associated with low patient activation, greater emotional distress, negative assessment of care, less health-promoting eating habits and less frequent foot examinations.


Good social support is significantly associated with health-promoting behaviours and well-being among patients with Type 2 diabetes. However, HbA(1c) levels are higher for cohabitant persons, indicating barriers for social support. Intervention research is needed to investigate the causal relationship between social networks and health-promoting behaviours. This knowledge should be used in clinical practice when targeting and designing education, support and care for patients with Type 2 diabetes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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