YSN Dean Margaret Grey and Associate Professor Robin Whittemore were awarded $750,000 from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to expand on past successes in helping adolescents cope with type 1 diabetes.
The research grant, entitled "Integrating Behavioral Care for Teens with Diabetes," is funded through the ADA sanofi-aventis U.S. Award in Health Service Research in Clinical Care Delivery program, in support of research that examines clinical interventions and programs leading to improvements in care delivery, patient engagement, and self-management for diabetes.
Grey and Whittemore developed TeenCope, an online forum using an eye-catching graphic novel format to get adolescents talking to each other about managing diabetes. The site also delivers coping skills lessons from animated characters. The new three-year project will enhance online participation through social networking. Peer support is an important component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as adolescents face pressures such as not wanting to reveal medical equipment in a social setting.
In addition, the project will also integrate an online educational program aimed at problem-solving for teens with diabetes. Adolescence is a time when patients neglect self-monitoring, dietary recommendations, and pharmacologic treatments—not because of a lack of knowledge, but due to the decision-making difficulties characteristic of this life stage. Studies show that poor metabolic control in the teen years correlates to reduced self-management in adulthood, making adolescence a key period for developing healthy behaviors.
The grant will fund enhancements to the existing program and a clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of the enhanced TeenCope program compared with an existing web site for youth with diabetes, available through the American Diabetes Association web site.