Given the urgent need to develop effective programs that improve the ability for adolescents to achieve metabolic control equivalent to programs studied in the Diabetes. Control and Complications Trial, we have undertaken a clinical trial to determine if a behavioral intervention (coping skills training [CST]) combined with intensive diabetes management can improve metabolic control and quality of life in adolescents implementing intensive therapy regimens.
A total of 65 youths between the ages of 13 and 20 years, who elected to initiate intensive insulin therapy, were randomly assigned to one of two groups: the intensive management with CST group and the intensive management without CST group. CST consists of a series of small group efforts designed to teach adolescents the coping skills of social problem-solving, social skills training, cognitive behavior modification, and conflict resolution. Data were collected at pre-intervention and at 3 months following the use of the Self-Efficacy for Diabetes scale, Children's Depression Inventory, Issues in Coping with IDDM scale, and the Diabetes Quality of Life: Youth scale. Clinical data (HbA1c, adverse effects) were collected monthly.
The experimental and control groups were comparable on all measures at baseline. Results show that adolescents who received CST had lower HbA1c and better diabetes self-efficacy and were less upset about coping with diabetes than adolescents receiving intensive management alone. In addition, adolescents who received the CST found it easier to cope with diabetes and experienced less of a negative impact of diabetes on quality of life than those who did not receive CST.
CST is useful in improving not only an adolescent's metabolic control, but also their quality of life. As more pediatric providers aim for improved control, in adolescents with diabetes, the addition of this behavioral intervention may be helpful in achieving metabolic and life goals.