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Shifting the Focus: Psychological Wellbeing of Carers of Children with Type 1 Diabetes

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posted on 06.02.2017, 03:26 by Francesca Elise Thomson

Type 1 diabetes (T1DM) is the fastest growing chronic illness amongst Australian children. Both the long and short-term medical complications associated with the condition, highlight the importance of sustained optimal management. As T1DM is predominantly diagnosed during childhood, the responsibilities of T1DM management often fall to carers. Caring for a child with a chronic illness, brings with it additional responsibilities and burdens. Commonly reported are the stresses associated with balancing the needs of their child’s illness with typical developmental milestones, as well as other responsibilities outside their caregiver role. Within paediatric research however, often the focus is on the child’s adjustment to their diagnosis, with limited focus on carers. This study, aimed to explore the prevalence of psychological wellbeing of carers of children with T1DM, as well as identify factors that contributed to wellbeing. Specifically, three key research questions were asked. 1) How does the psychological wellbeing of carers of children with T1DM compare to carers of children without a chronic illness? 2) What factors contribute to psychological wellbeing of carers of children with T1DM? 3) How do carer psychosocial factors relate to their child’s T1DM management? Ninety-three carers of children with T1DM and 84 comparison carers completed measures of depression anxiety and stress (both general stress and parent related stress). In addition, T1DM carers completed measures of coping, family functioning, T1DM related self-efficacy, perceived social support and T1DM related knowledge. Non-parametric univariate analysis revealed that carers of children with T1DM reported significantly higher depression and general stress. Canonical correlations found that general and medical related stress appraisal, and avoidant coping significantly related to poorer wellbeing. Finally, bivariate correlations indicated that increased carer self-efficacy and perceived support from their child’s school related to improved glycaemic control. In addition, increased carer stress was related to increased child T1DM related hospitalisations. Findings from this study highlight the need for carer psychological support, as well as specific areas for targeted intervention for improved carer psychological wellbeing, and T1DM management.


Principal supervisor

Margaret Hay

Additional supervisor 1

Phillip Bergman

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Psychological Sciences

Campus location



Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Degree Type



Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences