Diabetics & Social Support: A Collaborative Approach to fight Diabetes

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Sharif Mohammad Sadat, a fourth year medical student currently studying in Bangladesh Medical College, Dhaka. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Diabetes prevalence has been growing rapidly in recent decades. Currently, diabetes is known as one of the major public health concerns in the third millennium and is the fifth main mortality cause in the world. Suffering from chronic complications of diabetes leads to the decrease in life expectancy and increase in death, imposes high economic burden on the person, family, and society, and affects the life quality of the person as well as the family. The main treatment for diabetes concentrates on controlling blood glucose, which is accomplished with diet, physical activity, and medications. Self-management, medical supervision, and lifestyle changes are mostly used to control blood glucose in diabetic patients.

Social support,  a multidimensional concept referring to the support a patient perceives and receives from his or her social network, is regarded as one of the influential and effective components for practicing self-care and for adhering to the treatment and disease management as diabetes is a lifelong illness that necessitates considerable behavioral adjustments and adherence to a complex diet. On the other hand, a major part of the care for this disease is done at home and inside the family. Therefore, diabetes is sometimes called a family disease because its control and demands influence all family members which is usually measured in three dimensions. 

  1. Objective support, often referred to as practical help or visible support, which includes direct material assistance from family, friends, coworkers, and so forth.
  2. Subjective support, which refers to the emotional and subjective experience of being accepted, encouraged, and comprehended.
  3. The extent of social support utilization, including access and acceptance to various aspects of support and attempts in behaviors related to health, such as encouraging healthy behaviors.

The earliest and most crucial source of support, the family makes self-sacrificing sacrifices to take care of its members. Every family makes an effort to help the person continuously during difficult times. The implementation of self-care programs is negatively impacted when close family members interact with patients using inappropriate support behaviors. Families should take into account the fact that giving diabetic patient’s food that is inappropriate for them to consume and eating might actually cause them to avoid their treatment diet. For instance, one of the significant aspects of the non-supportive family behaviors is eating food that is not a part of the patient’s diet.

The lifestyle and emotional state of the patient must be taken into account for disease management to be effective. Regular monitoring and screening for diabetes distress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, adequate levels of social and family support.  The addition of behavioral health services to the diabetes treatment team will improve the efficacy of the regimen and care delivery. For enhancing outcomes in physical and behavioral health, collaborative care holds the most potential and there is no alternative to it.

About the author

Sharif Mohammad Sadat is a fourth year medical student currently studying in Bangladesh Medical College, Dhaka. He serves as the SCORE Regional Assistant for Asia-Pacific at IFMSA as well as the National Officer on Research Exchange at Bangladesh Medical Students’ Society. Apart from being passionate in the field of medicine, he is a youth visionary leader who wants to bring a positive change in the society. He is also an advocate of youth involvement in global health initiatives and melds social growth with medical knowledge. 

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