Maternal Experiences of Transitioning Their Emerging Adult With Type 1 Diabetes to College

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PurposeThe purpose of this study was to gain a deeper understanding about mothers’ experiences of transitioning their emerging adult with type 1 diabetes mellitus to college.MethodsA descriptive, qualitative study was conducted with 9 mothers of high school seniors with type 1 diabetes (T1DM) using semi-structured questions via recorded telephone interviews.ResultsAmong the 9 participants, 8 had daughters, and 1 had a son. The thematic analysis resulted in 4 themes: (1) concern for health and safety at college, (2) evolving roles of the parent and emerging adult dyad, (3) communication dynamics, and (4) social support systems.ConclusionsResults indicate that mothers of emerging adults with T1DM experience heightened levels of concern during the college transition. These concerns are above and beyond those that are experienced by mothers of emerging adults without T1DM. Findings indicated that increasing levels of support for both parents as well as emerging adults with T1DM during the college transition may serve to decrease maternal stress and enhance the development of preparedness for diabetes self-management. Recommendations for diabetes educators in clinical practice include a family-centered approach focusing on the transition before the late adolescent period, interventions from colleges to promote a smooth transition, and interventions that address concerns of both the emerging adult with T1DM and the parent. Further research is necessary to identify barriers and facilitators to support parent/emerging adult dyads during the college transition period.

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