The purpose of this study was to determine the pattern of adjustment over time of a cohort of children with newly diagnosed diabetes compared with a cohort of peer-selected children without diabetes over the first 2 years after the diagnosis of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM).
Children (n = 89 with IDDM, n = 53 without IDDM) ages 8–14 years were studied with the Children's Depression Inventory, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children, Child and Adolescent Adjustment Profile, Self-Perception Profile for Children, and a general health scale. Initial data were collected within 6 weeks of the diagnosis of IDDM and at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months thereafter.
There were no demographic differences between the two groups. Initially, children with diabetes were more depressed, more dependent, and more withdrawn than their peers. By 1 year postdiagnosis, there were no significant differences in psychosocial status between the two groups. By 2 years postdiagnosis, depression, dependency, and withdrawal were significantly higher in children with diabetes than in their peers without IDDM. Self-perceived competence remained similar between the two groups at all time points.
After an initial period of adjustment, children with IDDM have equivalent psychosocial status to children without IDDM, but by 2 years after diagnosis, they have experienced twice the amount of depression and adjustment problems as their peers. Interventions should be aimed at this critical period between 1 and 2 years postdiagnosis.