Patient-Perceived Family Stigma of Type 2 Diabetes and Its Consequences

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Introduction: Adults with type two diabetes (T2D) report being monitored and judged by family members, contributing to feelings of guilt/shame, and attempts to conceal one’s diabetes status or self-care efforts. However, studies have not yet quantitatively examined T2D stigma from family members. Our objective was to assess the frequency of T2D family stigma and its association with helpful and harmful diabetes-specific family behaviors and psychological and behavioral consequences of stigma. Method: A sample of predominantly African-American adults with T2D and low income completed items written for this study to assess T2D family stigma and consequences of stigma. We explored frequencies and bivariate correlations between these constructs and diabetes-specific family behaviors (measured with the Diabetes Family Behavior Checklist-II). Results: Participants (N = 53) were 57.3 ± 8.7 years old, 70% African American, 96% had annual incomes <$20K, and average HbA1C was 8.0 ± 2.2%. More than half (57%) reported at least 1 experience of family stigma (1.26 ± 1.8 of 9 queried, α = .84), and 28% reported at least 1 consequence (0.6 ± 1.3 of 5 queried, α = .87). Reporting more family stigma was associated with more consequences (ρ = .52, p < .001) but not with helpful or harmful family behaviors. Discussion: Perceptions/experiences of T2D-related family stigma were common in our sample and associated with consequences of stigma including concealment and resentment of self-care, which may affect clinical outcomes.

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