Self-Efficacy, Social Support May Boost Diabetes Problem-Solving


Self-efficacy — a sense of your own capabilities — and social support are both linked to better problem-solving in diabetes management, according to a recent study published in the journal The Science of Diabetes Self-Management and Care.

As the study’s authors wrote, living with diabetes typically means navigating a complex set of health-related issues and decisions — and many different factors can affect how well people are able to make these decisions and solve problems that arise. The researchers were interested in looking at the effects of self-efficacy, social support, and diabetes distress on problem-solving and blood glucose control. The latest study was a secondary analysis of a previous study, which was designed to examine the effects of a problem-solving intervention on medication management in people with both type 2 diabetes and other health conditions, as noted in a Healio article.

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The latest analysis involved 304 people with both type 2 diabetes and either hypertension (high blood pressure) or hyperlipidemia (abnormal blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels), with a minimum age of 40 and an average age of 64. The group was 57% female, 80% white, and everyone had had diabetes for at least a year. Participants completed standardized surveys related to diabetes symptom distress, self-efficacy, social support, and problem-solving abilities.

The average score for the Problem-Solving Inventory was 87.5, indicating “moderately effective” problem-solving. The average score for symptoms distress was 23.6 out of 65 points, indicating “moderate distress” with diabetes symptoms. The average self-efficacy score was 143.6, indicating not being completely confident in diabetes self-management abilities. And there average social support score was 89.2, indicating “adequate support” overall. Participants also had an average A1C level (a measure of long-term blood glucose control) of 7.4%, indicating less-than-optimal blood glucose control.

Self-efficacy and social support linked to problem solving

The researchers found that age, sex, education level, diabetes duration, and the presence of other health conditions all affected participants’ problem-solving abilities. When they added self-efficacy scores and social support scores to this model, they found that its accuracy improved — meaning that greater self-efficacy and social support were linked to better problem-solving. They weren’t linked, though, to A1C levels. The researchers also found that as symptom distress increased, participants’ perceived problem-solving abilities decreased. The links between self-efficacy, social support, symptoms distress, and problem-solving were all in line with what previous studies have found, the researchers noted.

“Self-efficacy, social support, and symptom distress are essential factors associated with patients’ perceived problem-solving in diabetes management, “ the study authors concluded. “Researchers and clinicians should consider both personal factors and psychosocial factors such as self-efficacy, social support, and symptom distress when examining patients perceived problem-solving and developing tailored interventions to improve diabetes management.”

Want to learn more about Type 2 diabetes? Read “Diagnostic Tests for Type 2 Diabetes” and “Type 2 Diabetes and a Healthy Family Lifestyle.”

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