Significance: Individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D) frequently report experiencing diabetes burnout, a feeling of exhaustion, and frustration that may lead to ignoring self-care behaviors. Though the construct was identified in the early 1980s as a primary barrier to optimal diabetes care, scientific understanding of the concept is lacking. Prior literature has conflated diabetes burnout with the other psychosocial concepts of diabetes distress and depression. In an attempt to address the gap, our qualitative findings highlighted that diabetes burnout includes: (1) feelings of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion, (2) detachment from illness identity, support systems, and self-care, and (3) a sense of powerlessness to re-take the ownership of self-care.

Aim: To examine the relationship between the three hypothesized dimensions of diabetes burnout and to determine if the data would be able to identify a relationship between diabetes burnout, distress, depression, and short-term outcomes.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study on a sample of 111 adults with T1D who completed an online survey developed by existing valid and reliable measures.

Results: All dimensions of diabetes burnout were significantly correlated between .60 and .85 (p<.001). We found that diabetes burnout was significantly associated with both depression (es=0.67; p<.001) and diabetes distress (es=0.83; p<.001). Although overall burnout score explained more of the variation in key diabetes outcomes such as last reported HbA1C or missed appointments than diabetes distress or depression, and those relationships persist and strengthen even after controlling for these other related constructs.

Conclusion: A single cross-sectional study is insufficient for any strong claims; however, this study challenges current knowledge on diabetes care by suggesting diabetes burnout as a distinct but interrelated concept with distress or depressions. These findings need to be replicated, ideally with larger and more diverse samples and with longitudinal studies.


S. Abdoli: None. D.M. Hessler: Consultant; Self; Eli Lilly and Company. K. Miller-Bains: None. A.C. Vora: Speaker’s Bureau; Self; Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Dexcom, Inc., Novo Nordisk Inc. B. Smither: None. E.M. Burr: None. H.L. Stuckey: None.


Oak Ridge Associated Universities

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