Introduction: Elevated depressive symptoms are common in caregivers following their children’s T1D diagnoses. In the general population, strong social support and social problem-solving abilities buffer depressive symptoms during stressful life events. To evaluate whether these constructs apply to diagnosis-related distress, we examined the associations among caregiver social support, social problem solving, and depressive symptoms after their children’s T1D diagnoses. We hypothesized that higher social support and higher social problem solving would be related to lower caregiver depressive symptoms.

Methods: Participants included 157 young children (M age=4.46±1.64 years) newly diagnosed with T1D (M days diagnosed = 28.78±15.10) and their primary caregivers (70% Caucasian, 74% married, 90% female) assessed at baseline of an ongoing behavioral RCT. Caregivers self-reported their social support (Protective Factors Survey (PFS)-Social Support), social problem solving abilities (Social Problem Solving Inventory- R:SF; SPSI), and depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale; CES-D).

Results: Overall, 46.5% of caregivers exceeded the clinical cut-off on the CES-D (M=16.60 (11.58)). Further, higher social support (B=-.235,-p=.004) and higher social problem solving abilities (B=-.317,-p<.001) were related to lower caregiver depressive symptoms, controlling for child age/sex, and presence of other caregivers (all p>.05). Higher negative (not positive) problem orientation was related to higher depressive symptoms (B=.373,-p<.001); problem solving styles were unrelated to depressive symptoms (p>.05).

Conclusions: Behavioral interventions focused on promoting positive social support and social problem solving abilities may decrease caregivers depressive symptoms after their children’s initial T1D diagnosis. Replication using longitudinal data is needed.


C.H. Wang: None. M. Sinisterra: None. N. Herrera: None. C. Tully: None. L. Clary: None. M. Monaghan: Research Support; Self; American Diabetes Association. M.E. Hilliard: None. R. Streisand: None.


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (R01DK102561)

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