The purpose of this study was to develop a model that describes the contributions of key psychosocial variables to the health outcome of adolescents with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). Subjects were 93 adolescents with IDDM and their parents. Health-outcome measures included adherence and metabolic control (HbA1c). Psychosocial variables included adolescent age, chronic life stress, social competence, family relations, and family knowledge about IDDM. Multiple regression analyses showed that adherence (P < .029) and stress (P < .052) were directly related to metabolic control and that knowledge about IDDM (P < .029), family relations (P < .099), and adolescent age (P < .086) had direct effects on adherence. Combined, the independent variables accounted for 14.5% of the variance in predicting HbA1c and 18.5% of the variance in predicting adherence. In general, these findings are consistent with extant theory. The direct link between stress and metabolic control, however, contrasts with the current view that psychosocial variables affect metabolic control indirectly through their influence on adherence behavior. The methodological limitations of the findings are noted, directions for future research are suggested, and the implications for clinical interventions are described.

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