SU, Upstate professors receive NIH grant to explore relationship between spousal support, managing diabetes
SU, Upstate professors receive NIH grant to explore relationship between spousal support, managing diabetesDecember 02, 2005Carol K. Masiclatclkim@syr.edu
Can your better half help you to better health? Results from a pilot study conducted in 2003-04 by researchers from Syracuse University and Upstate Medical University suggest that patients with type-2 diabetes who have the support of their spouses in managing their diabetes may be able to get their blood sugar to healthier levels than those without that support. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recently awarded the research team $456,000 to continue their work and expand it to a full two-year study, to begin in 2006.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity to see our intervention move forward at a level that it can touch the lives of more couples,” says Jonathan Sandberg, associate professor and chair of the department of Marriage and Family Therapy department in the College of Human Services and Health Professions at SU. “Through our pilot research and other interviews we have done with couples, we realize that couples’ ability to support each other in efforts to successfully manage diabetes is crucial. If there is conflict and strain around management issues, there can be both health and marital/relational consequences that are real and painful.”
Sandberg was a co-investigator on the pilot phase of Diabetes Partners Project, a research effort that explored the connection between spousal support and successful blood glucose level maintenance. The study was conducted in collaboration with Upstate Medical University investigators Dr. Paula M. Trief, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and Dr. Ruth Weinstock, professor of medicine.
During the pilot study, Trief and Sandberg oversaw a series of interventions designed to improve the quality of support between diabetes patients and their spouses while at the same time reducing the harmful effects of diabetes. Participating couples were placed into three groups: couples involved in a telephone intervention, couples involved in a face-to-face intervention and a control group receiving usual care. The intervention couples participated in two marital communication skills sessions and four diabetes education sessions, learning about nutrition, exercise and diet planning.
The results revealed that telephone intervention participants fared the best in reducing their blood sugar levels by the end of the study. In the next phase of research, called the Diabetes Support Project, 55 couples will participate in the study, utilizing the telephone intervention method. The research team will compare the outcomes of patients who receive phone intervention individually to those receiving couples’ intervention and patients receiving the usual care.
Those interested in being considered as study subjects should contact Rebecca Brittain at 464-5723.