Providing social support services for patients with diabetes may improve outcomes

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New research reveals a perceived lack of support from family and friends affects a patient's ability to manage type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

The study was conducted at Solano County Family Health Services Clinics in Vallejo and Fairfield, California. Nearly 75 percent of the 101 study participants, who were between 40 and 80 years of age, reported an annual income of less than $20,000.

Among vulnerable populations, the necessary modifications to daily lifestyle can be difficult to maintain without adequate social support, leading to diabetes-related distress that derails treatment, according to the study. Researchers found that as perceived social support increased, diabetes-related distress decreased. The scales used are established clinical tools that measure perceived social support and perceived distress related to diabetes.

Diabetes-related mortality and morbidity are highest among people with lower socioeconomic status. Yet, few previous studies have investigated the nature of diabetes distress and social support pertaining to underserved, diverse populations with type 2 diabetes.

Given the significant role that social support has on diabetes-related distress, the researchers said clinicians should be highly encouraged to focus not only on providing medical care for people with diabetes but also on learning about their support system to optimize diabetes management outcomes and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.