Researcher Studies Link Between Successful Diabetes Management and a Patient’s Social Network

CAMDEN — Blood sugar control, exercise, and taking medication as directed are among the most important steps to managing diabetes every day, but patients aren’t alone in trying to adhere to healthy behaviors.

Kristin August, an assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers–Camden, is studying how a patient’s social network — a spouse, family, and friends — play a part in diabetes management.

“Because most research to date has focused on social support, how social control — or efforts to regulate a person’s behavior when they are unable to do it themselves — influences health is a new direction for this field. It’s exciting because there are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered,” August says.  

August focuses her work on how families, particularly couples, work together to manage diabetes. In the United States, more than 25 million adults age 20 or older has diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

August says married patients have come to expect that their spouses be involved in the daily management of the chronic disease.

“Spouses are very involved in their partners’ diabetes management. Usually, they help through both social support and control efforts aimed at improving adherence,” August says.

Prior research has shown that some patients are unlikely to adhere to many aspects of their regimen because diabetes requires a patient’s constant attention to dietary choices and other health behaviors important for successful diabetes management. Therefore, spouses become directly involved in monitoring their partners’ diabetes management.

“Spousal involvement can include persuading them or reminding them to adhere to healthy behaviors, and even criticizing them when they don’t adhere,” August says.

What’s missing from current research, however, is how members of a patient’s extended family, friends, and health care providers are involved in diabetes management and how they influence healthy behaviors among individuals from various backgrounds, she says.

August is performing a study to determine the appropriate norms for social network involvement in diabetes management and how these norms differ by age, gender, and race.  The study further seeks to understand how these norms influence health status, health behaviors, and emotional responses to such involvement.

“We want to find out what expectations patients have of others while managing diabetes and how that involvement impacts health behaviors and psychological well-being,” August says. “I’m hoping that policymakers and clinicians will see my work and more effectively design psychosocial interventions to help individuals manage diabetes.”

August is seeking participants for her study from the Philadelphia and South Jersey areas. They must be age 45 years or older, be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by a health care provider, and regularly see a health care provider for diabetes care.

Participants will receive $20 for their participation and be entered into a drawing for an additional $100. To participate in the study, call (856) 225-6784 or email kristin.august@rutgers.edu.

A Moorestown resident, August earned her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and her doctoral degree and postdoctoral training from the University of California–Irvine.

She is the author of various published articles, including “Cost and beliefs: Understanding individual and neighborhood level correlates of medication nonadherence among Mexican Americans with type 2 diabetes,” published in Health Psychology.

Her forthcoming article, “Spousal involvement in their partners’ diabetes management: Associations with spouse stress and perceived marital quality,” will be published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

Ed Moorhouse
856-225-6759

 

Other News Stories

January 2, 2014

CAMDEN — Matthew Ratti, a Voorhees resident, has been awarded a prestigious New Jersey Space Grant Consortium scholarship for research he is performing as a junior biology major at Rutgers–Camden

December 20, 2013
The Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts will host a gallery show celebrating the graphic novel. The exhibit will include feature artists with sensibilities kindred to graphic novelists but working in other mediums, including sculpture, painting, mixed media, and video.
December 18, 2013
Bullying isn’t only a problem that occurs in schools or online among young people. It can happen anywhere to anyone, and a Rutgers–Camden nursing scholar is shedding some light on how it is becoming increasingly common in academia.
December 18, 2013

Award-winning cartoonist and graphic novelist Chris Ware will present a free public lecture on the Rutgers–Camden campus at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29.

December 18, 2013
Paul A. Jargowsky, a professor of public policy and CURE director at Rutgers–Camden, has authored a new report revealing the extent to which concentrated poverty has returned to and, in some ways exceeded, the previous peak level of 1990.

Pages