Depression, anxiety and self-care behaviours of young adults with Type 2 diabetes: results from the International Diabetes Management and Impact for Long-term Empowerment and Success (MILES) Study

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Abstract

Aim

Young adults with Type 2 diabetes have higher physical morbidity and mortality than other diabetes sub-groups, but differences in psychosocial outcomes have not yet been investigated. We sought to compare depression and anxiety symptoms and self-care behaviours of young adults with Type 2 diabetes with two matched control groups.

Methods

Using cross-sectional survey data from the Australian and Dutch Diabetes Management and Impact for Long-term Empowerment and Success (MILES) studies, we matched 93 young adults (aged 18–39 years) with Type 2 diabetes (case group) with: (i) 93 older adults (≥ 40 years) with Type 2 diabetes (Type 2 diabetes control group; matched on country, gender, education, diabetes duration and insulin use) and (ii) 93 young adults with Type 1 diabetes (Type 1 diabetes control group; matched on country, gender, age and education). Groups were compared with regard to depression symptoms (nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire), anxiety symptoms (seven-item Generalised Anxiety Disorder questionnaire) and frequency of selected self-care behaviours (single item per behaviour).

Results

Participants in the case group had higher depression scores (Cohen's d = 0.40) and were more likely to have clinically meaningful depressive symptoms (Cramer's V = 0.23) than those in the Type 2 diabetes control group. Participants in the case group had statistically equivalent depression scores to the Type 1 diabetes control group. The groups did not differ in anxiety scores. Those in the case group were less likely than both control groups to take insulin as recommended (Cramer's V = 0.24–0.34), but there were no significant differences between the groups in oral medication-taking. The case group were less likely than the Type 2 diabetes control group to eat healthily (Cramer's V = 0.16), and less likely than the Type 1 diabetes control group to be physically active (Cramer's V = 0.15).

Conclusions

Our results suggest that Type 2 diabetes is as challenging as Type 1 diabetes for young adults and more so than for older adults. Young adults with Type 2 diabetes may require more intensive psychological and self-care support than their older counterparts.

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