To investigate the presence of psychiatric disorders and symptoms in type I diabetic patients and to identify those that may influence metabolic control as assessed by GHb levels.
This was a cross-sectional study. One hundred and two consecutive patients with type I diabetes who were regular outpatient visitors of a diabetology department were evaluated. The psychiatric assessments included self-rating questionnaires (General Health Questionnaire and Fear Questionnaire) and observer-rating questionnaires (Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale [MADRS] and Mini International Interview). Diabetic characteristics were assessed by a structured interview. The observer was blind to the diabetic characteristics of the patients.
Type I diabetic patients with GHb levels ≥ 8% had higher psychological distress, scored significantly higher for symptoms of agoraphobia and for fear of blood and injury, had substantially higher levels of anxiety-depression, and performed significantly fewer blood glucose measurements per day. They did not differ in MADRS score from patients with GHb levels < 8%. Multivariate analysis showed that GHb was positively associated with the total score of phobic symptoms and the level of anxiety-depression and inversely associated with the number of daily blood glucose measurements. These factors explained 41% of the variance of GHb. The inverse relationship between GHb and the number of blood glucose measurements per day was mainly influenced by the fear of blood and injury. Patients with high scores for the fear of blood and injury performed fewer blood glucose measurements and had poorer glycemic control; conversely, subjects without fear of blood and injury performed more daily blood glucose measurements and had better glycemic control.
Phobic symptoms are frequent in patients with type I diabetes. The intensity of phobic symptoms and anxiety-depression negatively influences metabolic control. Increased fear of blood and injury may lead some patients to perform few home blood glucose measurements and may result in poorer glycemic control. This suggests that, by decreasing the fear of blood, injury, and injection, metabolic control may be improved.