Positive Health Benefits of Peer Support and Connections for College Students With Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the characteristics and health outcomes of college students with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) as it relates to membership in a local university-based diabetes student organization.

Methods

This descriptive, correlational research design is a secondary analysis of data. The sample consisted of nationally representative young adults in college (n = 317) between 18 and 30 years of age who were diagnosed with T1DM. Data were collected during April 2017 using a secure electronic diabetes management survey to inquire about self-reported barriers to diabetes management, hypoglycemia, and diabetic ketoacidosis of members of a diabetes organization.

Results

Students were evenly distributed from freshman to senior year of college with a slight decrease at the graduate level. Students who were affiliated members of a student-led diabetes student organization were less likely to report increased levels of isolation, depressive symptoms, and anxiety related to their diabetes than were general members.

Conclusion

Participation in a university-based diabetes student organization on campus and connecting with other college students with diabetes may have health benefits. In conclusion, the current study underscores the potential importance of peer-led, diabetes-specific support for adolescents emerging into adulthood.

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