Self-esteem and social support protect against the impact of diabetes stigma

New insights from the second Diabetes MILES– Australia study published in Diabetes Care

By Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott

ACBRD researcher Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott and colleagues have published new insights into diabetes stigma. The aim of this study was to understand the potential impact of diabetes stigma and factors that may protect against it.

We used data from the Australian Diabetes MILES-2 study to explore the relationship between diabetes stigma and:

  1. emotional wellbeing, i.e symptoms of depression, anxiety and diabetes distress.
  2. self-care behaviours, i.e. diet and physical activity.
  3. HbA1c.

We also examined the extent to which self-esteem, diabetes self-efficacy, and diabetes-specific social support moderated the impact of diabetes stigma on those outcomes.

There were 2,088 participants: 959 adults with type 1 diabetes and 1129 adults with type 2 diabetes.

The results show that there is a relationship between diabetes stigma and emotional wellbeing. Participants experiencing more stigma also reported more symptoms of depression, anxiety or distress. Overall, diabetes stigma was not associated with self-care behaviours or HbA1c. More research is needed to explore the long-term impact of stigma on self-care. 

The results also show some evidence for the moderating effects of self-esteem and social support. This means that people with lower self-esteem or social support may be more vulnerable to the negative impact of diabetes stigma on emotional wellbeing. On the other hand, higher self-esteem and social support may protect against the impact of stigma.

Further research is needed to fully understand the effects of diabetes stigma and ways in which stigma and its impact can be reduced.

To read more of our research about diabetes stigma check out these and the ACBRD website.

Full Article: Holmes-Truscott E, Ventura AD, Thuraisingam S, Pouwer F, Speight J. Psychosocial Moderators of the Impact of Diabetes Stigma: Results From the Second Diabetes MILES–Australia (MILES-2) Study. Diabetes care. 2020 Nov 1;43(11):2651-9.

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