Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions among youth, affecting over 200,000 children and adolescents in the United States. However, management of diabetes—which involves frequent testing of blood sugar levels and injections of insulin—often proves very difficult for teenagers.
Dr. Margaret Grey, dean of the Yale University School of Nursing, developed and tested a program called Coping Skills Training (CST) as a part of routine diabetes management. Its aim is to improve diabetic teens' coping and communication skills, healthy behaviors, and conflict resolution. The CST training helps diabetic teens to make good decisions when it comes to managing food choices, making decisions about drugs and alcohol, and facing personal conflicts. Those teens who receive CST maintain better metabolic control and consistent sugar levels.
"Nursing research is about helping people deal with the hand that they've been dealt," says Dr. Grey. "What we try to do is to develop ways that help diabetic teens and their families manage very difficult situations better. That leads to better outcomes for families and for the children."