Family Coping and Adjustment to a Child’s Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes

Julianna Short

Authors:  Julianna Short, Dr. Jennifer Doty

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Doty

College:  College of Agricultural and Life Sciences


Adjusting to a child’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes cause a significant amount of stress in parents which can lead to negative health outcomes for both the child and family members as well as a decline in overall family functioning. The purpose of the research is to determine how the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes impacts the family system and identify possible support systems and coping strategies for these families. Seven interviews were conducted with parents of children with type 1 diabetes who had been diagnosed within the last three months to five years. Questions were designed to identify the most prominent stressors that families face and existing support systems. Thematic coding was used to identify common patterns and themes in these groups. The results indicate that major sources of stress for families are the unpredictability of the disease, lack of control, and the constant worry they feel over their child. Adjustment strategies found were open communication between family members, involvement with other T1D families, and maintaining a positive mindset. Future implications include the development of resources and programs that connect families with other T1D families in their community and foster healthy communication between family members.

Poster Pitch

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11 Responses
  1. Brittany Blake

    Hi Julianna,

    You mention that constant worry is a major issue for a family with type 1 diabetes diagnosed in their children, you also mention that social support was a major aid reported in these families. Given your experience and these findings, what would you recommend for future research and directions?

    1. Julianna

      Hi Brittany,
      I would recommend that future research continues to identify sources of worry and anxiety for parents, as well as evaluate current programs and interventions that help these families. In regards to social support, I would recommend that future programs and interventions focus on connecting families with other T1D families or resources that foster social connections with other families.
      Thank you for the feedback!

  2. Julianna, really nice job on your presentation–from day one you were so passionate about this topic! I’ve been impressed with your determination to see it through to the end despite several roadblock. It really turned out great!

  3. Carlos Pernas

    Hi Julianna! Fascinating research, I can only imagine how much a diagnosis like this can affect the functionality of a family unit. Are there any examples of support programs out there right now that you’ve seen have a noticeable positive effect?

    1. Julianna

      Hi Carlos,
      Many parents interviewed mentioned camps, events, community groups, and organizations that helped their family adjust and cope with the disease. For example, JDRF hosts several community events and fundraisers that spread awareness and bring families together. Many parents also discussed the Florida Diabetes Camp, which helped their child adjust to the diagnosis by connecting them with other children with type 1.
      I hope that answered your question. Thank you for the feedback!

  4. Kelly Moore

    Very nicely done, Julianna. Your research was impressive and certainly addresses an important issue for families. Congratulations on your achievement!