Family Members Can Sabotage Diabetic Care
Relatives of diabetics often engage in non-supportive behaviors that can worsen the patient’s condition, a new study says.
Diabetics surveyed by researchers at Vanderbilt University said that family members who are knowledgeable about their condition are better able to support them in their efforts to manage the illness.
But if family members were seen as non-supportive, the patients were less likely to be consistent in healthy practices.
Researchers said the respondents wanted concrete support from family in both understanding diabetes and the steps needed to manage it. “It is not necessarily emotional support that they want, but we find the key is that really tangible kind of ‘get in the trenches with me and help me figure this out’ support,” Chandra Osborn, Ph.D., MPH, assistant professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics, said in a statement.
Participants in the focus groups that formed the basis of the study said that specific things family members could do include taking a snack along in case the diabetic has an episode of low blood sugar and carrying an extra dose of medicine so that it was available if the patient forgot to bring it.
But, the patients said, if family members weren’t supportive, that led to a failure to follow medication regimens and lifestyle measures. And that can alter a patient's condition for the worse
“Someone in the focus group commented on that: ‘I went to a picnic, my family knows that I have diabetes and a lot of my family members have diabetes, and no one brought the Diet Coke,’” Osborn said. “And that’s a very strong message to someone with diabetes."
Patients also said they objected to “miscarried help” – i.e., nagging.