November 15, 2011

Blame is Bad; Positive Attitude is Good for Diabetes

When we are first diagnosed with diabetes, we all tend to go through a grieving process. First, we have anger, then denial, sometimes depression, and then acceptance. We do not all experience them at the same level, order, or even all of these. Denial for me was about three years after diagnosis and I had already developed good treatment habits, which did save me from many problems because the period of denial was shortened by the good habits. Depression set in about the same time and it was good that I was courting my second wife as this helped end the depression and I think denial as well.

Now a study has looked at some of the happenings after diagnosis and how this affects us. I was a little shocked by some of the results, but still I realize that this can happen. Many “people with diabetes who see themselves as responsible for their disease onset blame themselves for making poor lifestyle choices and are significantly less likely to monitor their glucose levels, properly inject themselves and make lifestyle choices that would benefit their condition.” I know blame had something to do with this, but I was not aware that these people are significantly less likely to monitor their blood glucose levels and take proper care of themselves.

Getting rid of the blame game quickly may have been my saving force and caused me to start monitoring my blood glucose levels quickly and often. I was trying to decide what foods I could and could not tolerate, and which ones to eat less of or eliminate from my menu. This became my driving force the first several months and then when I was put on insulin; my habits became even more ingrained.

"As perceptions of responsibility for disease onset increased, so did trait anger," said Mary Turner DePalma, professor of psychology at Ithaca College, "Increases in trait anger were associated with increases in self-blame and negative social support, which were associated with the self-report of poorer disease management." This is why many people with type 2 diabetes also become angry when not so well meaning people make very impolite remarks when at public and private events when food is being served.

"That perceptions of responsibility for diseases onset are associated with health behavior illustrates their importance in the specific context of diabetes," DePalma said. "Our study shows that interventions designed to improve anger management and increase disease acceptance may offer additional mechanisms to improve diet, exercise and perform appropriate blood glucose testing in individuals with diabetes."
This last statement is very important and is one of the factors that need to be considered more. Positive interventions can go a long way to improve diabetes care and patient support by the medical community should be part of this. The medical community seems not to care about attitudes that they display to patients with diabetes and many physicians use the blame and fear tactics to get patients to follow their directions. Positive attitudes by physicians and nursing staff could go a long way to provide good examples for patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases.

No comments: