The Role of Peers in the Management of Type 1 Diabetes in an Emerging Adult Sample
Pihlaskari, Andrea Karina
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BACKGROUND: During emerging adulthood, individuals with type 1 diabetes are confronted with unique illness-related challenges that place them at risk for adverse health outcomes. There is a sparse and divided literature examining the role of potential protective factors, such as peer support, across this time period. PURPOSE: To examine whether diabetes specific peer support is associated with diabetes outcomes cross-sectionally in late adolescence and in emerging adulthood, and longitudinally across the transition from late adolescence to emerging adulthood. METHOD: Longitudinal observational multi-site study design that focused on youths (N=132) with type 1 diabetes during the last year in high school and then again during the first year post high school. Report of diabetes specific peer support was measured during each of these time points and was used to predict diabetes outcomes above and beyond parental relationship quality as measured by report of parental acceptance. Diabetes outcomes were measured with glycemic control (HbA1c) and adolescent report of adherence. RESULTS: Diabetes specific peer support was associated cross sectionally and longitudinally with adherence above and beyond parental relationship quality. Changes in diabetes specific support across the two time points were associated with changes in both glycemic control and adherence across this time period. CONCLUSIONS: Proximal sources of support, such as diabetes specific peer support, should be examined as potential protective factors for emerging adults with type 1 diabetes.