Deal Better with Disease
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Diabetic individuals who have happy
marriages are more likely to be satisfied with their diabetes-related
quality of life than their unhappily married peers, new study
findings suggest. They are also less likely to experience emotional
distress because of their diabetes, researchers report.
"Being in a satisfying and intimate marital relationship predicts
that you will experience a better quality of life and especially
a better adaptation to the diabetes," Dr. Paula M. Trief of the
State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse
told Reuters Health.
Trief and her colleagues surveyed 78 adults with diabetes who
had been married for an average of 21 years. Follow-up interviews
were performed approximately 2 years after the initial survey.
Overall, the patients' initial reports about their marital adjustment
and intimacy, respectively, predicted both their levels of diabetes-related
emotional distress and their satisfaction with their diabetes-related
quality of life at follow-up, the investigators report in the
July issue of Diabetes Care.
For example, patients who initially reported high levels of
intimacy in their marriage were more likely to report increased
satisfaction with their diabetes regimen 2 years later, even after
the researchers took into account their education level and diabetes-related
quality of life.
Similarly, patients who initially reported better marital adjustment
also reported greater satisfaction with their diabetes regimen
"When people are in a good marriage, their partner is more likely
to support their efforts to take care of their diabetes," Trief
said. "It may also be that people who know how to work at establishing
and maintaining a good marriage are the people who know how to
work hard at managing and coping with diabetes."
However, the study participants' marital quality and intimacy
was not found to be associated with their overall health-related
quality of life, the authors note.
"It may mean that marital domains are especially relevant to
issues specific to the disease of diabetes," Trief and her team
speculate. "However, it may be that overall health-related quality
of life is more stable than diabetes-specific quality of life."
In light of the findings, "healthcare workers should pay attention
to the social and relationship context of their patients," Trief
said. "And, if relationship problems exist, (they should) recognize
that this may translate into a poorer adaptation to the diabetes
and might require a referral for professional marital counseling,"
"Both the marriage and the diabetes affect each other and need
attention," she added. "As diabetes is a demanding disease, the
person with diabetes needs all the help they can get in managing
SOURCE: Diabetes Care 2002;25:1154-1158.
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