Self Blame Leads to Poor Diabetes Management, Study Finds

Diabetics who believe they caused their disease blame themselves for poor lifestyle choices and are less likely to manage their diabetes properly, according to research published in the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Titled “Psychological Predictors of Diabetes Management,” the study found that those individuals are significantly less likely to monitor their blood sugar levels, properly administer their insulin injections, and make positive lifestyle choices to better manage their disease.

“Our study investigated the relationship between judgments of responsibility for the disease onset and subsequent health behavior,” said Mary Turner DePalma, professor of psychology at Ithaca College in New York and co-author of the study.

The small study included 46 Caucasian men and women with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Participants answered Internet survey questions that focused on their individual perceptions. Accuracy or fairness of their judgment was irrelevant.

Questions focused on perceptions of responsibility for disease onset, anger, self-blame, positive and negative social support, and disease management.

“As perceptions of responsibility for disease onset increased, so did trait anger,” said DePalma. Trait anger is defined as chronic anxiety. “Increases in trait anger were associated with increases in self blame and negative social support, which were associated with the self-report of poorer disease management.”

There was no link between trait anger and positive social support.

“Our study shows that interventions designed to improve anger management and increase disease acceptance may offer additional mechanisms to improve diet, exercise and perform appropriate blood glucose testing in individuals with diabetes,” said DePalma.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes can cause serious complications like blindness, kidney damage, and lower-limb amputations. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to life-threatening conditions like diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar (nonketotic) coma.

People with diabetes can reduce the likelihood of these complications by properly managing their blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and blood lipids.

DePalma believes that these results could apply to treating other diseases where lifestyle choices play a significant role in disease management.

Source: Ithaca College

photo by Libertinus Yomango

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