Table for two: Diabetes distress and diet-related interactions of married patients with diabetes and their spouses
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In adjusting to chronic illness, patients often negotiate new or altered daily routines within a dynamic family context. Yet, the responses of family members to the disease and its management are understudied. The authors investigated patients with Type 2 diabetes and their spouses (N = 55 couples) and examined the association of diet-related interactions (i.e., diet-related support, diet-related pressure, and frequency of sharing meals together) with each partner's adjustment to the illness context (i.e., diabetes distress). All spouses (100%) reported providing some type of diet-related support to their partners with diabetes in the past month, and many reported exerting pressure to improve their partners' diet choices (60%). In addition, many couples (64%) indicated that they frequently shared meals together in the past month. For spouses, their provision of diet-related pressure was associated (positively) with their diabetes distress. Frequently sharing meals was associated with less diabetes distress among patients, even after controlling for their glycemic control and diet adherence. Findings reveal that spouses of patients with diabetes are actively involved in illness management with their partners, and these activities are associated with their own diabetes distress and with that of their ill partners.
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