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Understanding Behavior: From Neurons to Societies

Adolescent disclosure to parents about diabetes linked to better diabetes management

September 14, 2017
Adolescence can already be a stressful time for many families, and coping with a chronic illness provides an added stressor that can negatively impact parent-adolescent relationships and health. Psychological Sciences faculty Alexandra Main and Deborah Wiebe have collaborated on two papers published this past year in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology examining how adolescent information management strategies and parenting are associated with type 1 diabetes management. 
In the first paper (Berg et al., 2017), Main, Wiebe and colleagues used a daily diary method to examine how adolescents’ daily disclosure to parents about type 1 diabetes management and parental knowledge of diabetes management were linked over time. They found that on days when adolescents disclosed to parents, their parents also solicited information from them. These daily interactions occurred in the context of high-quality parent-adolescent relationships.
In the second paper (Tucker et al., in press), Main, Wiebe and colleagues interviewed Latino and non-Latino white adolescents about how their parents learn about problems related to their diabetes management. They found that adolescent disclosure was the primary method by which parents gained knowledge about adolescent diabetes management problems, and disclosure and secrecy were associated with better diabetes management and fewer depressive symptoms for adolescents. 
This work can inform interventions with families coping with chronic illness during a challenging developmental period. Main and Wiebe, along with fellow Psychological Sciences faculty member Linda Cameron, are currently following up on this research collecting data on family communication among Latino adolescents with type 1 diabetes in the Valley.