Reaching Out May Help Those with Diabetes Live Longer
A new study published in Diabetes Care suggests that people with diabetes who reach out to others do better in terms of survival.
Prior research has shown that people with chronic illnesses who don't have good support systems are more likely to die. To learn more about this, researchers looked more than 3,500 people with diabetes to determine whether those who are less likely to reach out to others for support are at increased risk for death.
Interactive and Independent Relationship Styles Compared
Based on the results of a questionnaire, slightly more than half of the participants had an interactive relationship style. This means that they were more likely to reach out to and rely on others. The rest had an independent relationship style, meaning they relied mostly on themselves and it was hard for them to reach out to and trust others.
After five years, the death rate was 29 per 1,000 people in the interactive group. But it was higher -- 39 per 1,000 people -- in the independent group. In other words, those who were more independent and felt that they didn't need help from others had a 33 percent higher risk of dying.
A Disadvantage with Self-Care May Be to Blame
This study is the first to show a link between relationship style and risk for death. The authors suggest that worse adherence to diabetes self-care may be the main reason for the higher risk for death among those with an independent relationship style. Many self-care behaviors, such as quitting smoking or eating a healthy diet, are best undertaken with support from others. But additional research is needed to confirm this.
Find Ways to Reach Out to Others
Even if you don't have family nearby, reaching out to others is still possible. The American Diabetes Association offers tools to help you build a network of people who know the challenges that you face. One tool is the online message boards. Here you can learn, share, and help others with diabetes. Visit www.diabetes.org and search for "connect with others."
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Take Diabetes Self-Care Seriously
No matter what relationship style you have, it's important to keep up with your self-care. Don't forget these key elements of your diabetes care plan:
Always consult your physician for more information.