Background: Type 1 diabetes (T1DM) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the body’s production of the hormone insulin. T1DM is diagnosed during childhood and adolescence and may have significant impacts on mental health. Understanding the impact of T1DM on mental health during adolescence may increase our understanding of the mental health needs of young adults with T1DM.
Purpose: To describe the lived experiences of young adults with T1DM and how it relates to their mental health status during adolescence.
Methods: A qualitative explorative study using semi-structured interviews. A purposive sample of young adults with T1DM were recruited through social media and through an announcement in the monthly, national newsletter of the College Diabetes Network. Participants were interviewed individually via Apple Facetime and Google Hangouts. Self-reported demographic and clinical information was also collected. Professionally transcribed data were analyzed using thematic analysis.
Results: The sample was comprised of 18 young adults, the mean age was 20.4 years ± 1.21. Average age of diagnosis was 9.7 years ± 3.76. The interviews generated 4 major themes: (1) isolation, (2) maturity, (3) social support, and (4) challenges experienced by participants.
Conclusions/Implications: The young adults in this study report many positive and negative influences on mental health during adolescence. Many participants agreed that while they had support through family and friends, they felt they would best be reached by other people with T1DM. Participants also identified a lack of resources for managing T1DM in adolescence and negative judgement from healthcare providers regarding lifestyle/food choices. This research provides information about the importance of addressing mental health needs of young adults with T1DM during adolescence. Continued education for educators and health care providers regarding the importance of using person-centered non-judgement language is essential.
M. Ottignon: None. M. OConnor: None. C. Whitehouse: None.