Evidence-Based Behavioral Interventions to Promote Diabetes Management in Children, Adolescents, and Families

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Abstract

As members of multidisciplinary diabetes care teams, psychologists are well-suited to support self-management among youth with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) and Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and their families. Psychological and behavioral interventions can promote adherence to the complex and demanding diabetes care regimen, with the goals of promoting high quality of life, achieving optimal glycemic control, and ultimately preventing disease-related complications. This article reviews well-researched contemporary behavioral interventions to promote optimal diabetes family- and self-management and health outcomes in youth with T1D, in the context of key behavioral theories. The article summarizes the evidence base for established diabetes skills training programs, family interventions, and multisystemic interventions, and introduces emerging evidence for technology and mobile health interventions and health care delivery system interventions. Next steps in behavioral T1D intervention research include tailoring interventions to meet individuals’ and families’ unique needs and strengths, and systematically evaluating cost-effectiveness to advocate for dissemination of well-developed interventions. Although in its infancy, this article reviews observational and intervention research for youth with T2D and their families and discusses lessons for future research with this population. Interventions for youth with T2D will need to incorporate family members, consider cultural and family issues related to health behaviors, and take into account competing priorities for resources. As psychologists and behavioral scientists, we must advocate for the integration of behavioral health into routine pediatric diabetes care in order to effectively promote meaningful change in the behavioral and medical well-being of youth and families living with T1D and T2D.

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