Background

Emerging adulthood is a period fraught with challenging life transitions for many and is especially difficult for individuals with type 1 diabetes, as they encounter more obstacles to independently managing their diabetes. We examined the barriers faced by emerging adults and parents of emerging adults with type 1 diabetes and the impact these barriers had on their lives.

Methods

Emerging adults and parents of emerging adults with type 1 diabetes were recruited from primary care and specialty clinics and via social media posts. In the parent study, semi-structured interviews were conducted to understand what supported and did not support diabetes self-management. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed for common themes. This sub-analysis analyzed data related to financial challenges in accessing diabetes management equipment and supplies.

Results

This study included emerging adults with type 1 diabetes (n = 33; mean age 20 ± 2.9 years) and parents of emerging adults with type 1 diabetes (n = 17; mean age 47.5 ± 6.9 years). The majority of emerging adults used an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system (n = 24 [73%]). Four main themes emerged related to access to care: 1) affordability of diabetes management tools, 2) managing insurance, 3) communication with pharmacies and health care providers, and 4) emotional consequences of financial stress.

Conclusion

The current health system is challenging for emerging adults with type 1 diabetes and parents and is causing substantial emotional and financial stress. Future research is needed to address interventions for helping emerging adults and their parents navigate the cost of living with diabetes.

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