Emerging Adults Living with Diabetes: The Transition Process
Primary Investigator: Sara E. Poslaiko, RN, BSN
Purpose: Behavioral and psychosocial factors increase the risk of adverse health outcomes as emerging adults living with diabetes progress into independent life. This project examined psychosocial factors associated with young adult diabetics’ transition from family-centered pediatric care into adult healthcare services as a basis for recommendations to improve transition frameworks.
Methods: A mixed methods design was used. A community-based sample of 85 young adults with diabetes, aged 18 to 30 years, was recruited through social media (College of Diabetes Network, Facebook: “Young Adults Living with Diabetes”). Diabetes-related distress, self-efficacy and empowerment in self-care behaviors were measured and correlated with last reported HgbA1C. Two open-ended questions identified unmet needs during the transition into adult healthcare.
Results: Participants’ perceptions of self-efficacy and empowerment in relation to management of their diabetes were rated as high but diabetes-related burdens and challenges created a level of distress worthy of clinical attention. ‘Emotional burden’, ‘physician related stress’, ‘regimen related stress’ and ‘self-care’ demonstrated a strong relationship with HgbA1c. Unmet needs during the transition to adult healthcare were emotional support and validation, education and guidance, and healthcare provider sensitivity to developmental challenges specific to diabetes.
Discussion: Participants viewed themselves as competent in managing their diabetes but indicated emotional distress commanded considerable mental and emotional energy to meet the demands of diabetes care. The relationship between diabetes related distress and HgbA1C was the most significant correlated psychosocial variable which was validated in the qualitative data regarding distress associated with unmet needs during the transitional period.
Conclusion: The findings of this project highlight the need for emotionally supportive and developmentally sensitive healthcare with focused interventions to enhance self-care skills and self-efficacy of young adults transitioning from pediatric to adult health care.
Major Professor: Dr. Eileen Cormier, PhD, RN