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Exercise intervention study

Physical activity is associated with improved psychological wellbeing, fitness and quality of life and may mitigate the risk of poor glycaemic control but maintaining stable blood glucose levels is a challenge and can present a barrier to engagement in exercise. Consequently, participation and fitness levels in adolescents with type 1 diabetes are lower than recommended.

Our researchers are developing and piloting an exercise intervention aimed at improving mental health outcomes in this population. The intervention is designed to increase physical activity engagement to improve psychological and physiological outcomes.

Diabetes stigma study

Many adolescents with T1D report feeling self-conscious about managing their diabetes in public and more than 60 per cent of adolescents with T1D report experiencing diabetes-related stigma. There is emerging evidence that the experience of diabetes-related stigma may lead to avoidance of self-management behaviours and in turn, negatively impact glycaemic control. The aim of this study is to further explore the experience of stigma in adolescents with T1D and determine if coping style mediates the relationship between experiences of stigma and both diabetes self-management and glycaemic control.

Characterising moment-to-moment fluctuation in stress, anxiety and blood glucose levels in adolescents with type 1 diabetes

It is now well documented that children and adolescents with T1D are at greater risk for psychological disorders than young people without diabetes. Our own population-based data shows that Western Australian youth with T1D are over twice as likely to experience severe anxiety disorder than healthy young people. In addition, high levels of psychological distress are associated with poorer metabolic control. Despite the observed link between stress, anxiety and glycaemic control, we still don’t understand how stress, anxiety and blood glucose levels may interact moment-to-moment. In the current study we used a novel method of measuring fluctuations in stress and anxiety throughout the day, using a mobile app and then combined this data with information from continuous glucose monitors. Data from this study is currently being analysed by our team.

Transition of emerging adults with T1D from paediatric to adult care in Western Australia

For emerging adults with T1D the transition from paediatric to adult healthcare services presents a unique set of challenges. Transition occurs at a stage of immense physiological, emotional and social development. In addition to these significant challenges, the transition from paediatric to adult healthcare services requires the patient to assume greater autonomy for their diabetes management and to form new relationships with the clinical team, often in unfamiliar surroundings. As a result, many emerging adults disengage with healthcare services during this vulnerable stage, increasing their risk for poor physiological and psychological outcomes. This project will lay the foundation for the development of an intervention to improve outcomes for emerging adults as they transition to adult care.

Piloting a self-compassion program to promote physical and psychological wellbeing in youth with type 1 diabetes

Adolescents with T1D are at greater risk for poor mental health outcomes, relative to their peers without T1D. In turn, poor mental health can undermine self-management and contribute to poorer clinical outcomes. As a result, programs designed to promote resilience and improve psychological wellbeing are a priority for T1D research. The Making Friends with Yourself (MFY) program is a strengths-based intervention which aims to help young people be kinder to themselves through self-compassion training.  Self-compassion training has been shown to successfully reduce diabetes-related distress, depression and improve metabolic outcomes in adults with T1D. The aim of this project is to determine the capacity of a self-compassion program to improve psychological resilience and promote health outcomes in adolescents with T1D.