Social Support Strategies in Adult Patients With Diabetes

A Review of Strategies in the USA and Europe

Julienne K Kirk; Christine N Ebert; Ginger P Gamble; C Edward Ebert


Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab. 2013;8(4):379-389. 

In This Article

Method & Data Sources

A search of the medical literature was conducted by examining PubMed, MEDLINE and Cochrane Library databases. The search terms used were 'social support' and 'diabetes mellitus, Type 2' by using MeSH. Inclusion criteria included English language, adults older than 19 years of age and published between 2006 and April 2013. The initial search of the literature retrieved 301 citations. The search was further limited to studies containing adult patients whose country of origin were the USA or Europe and rejected articles that included children, gestational diabetes or patients at risk for diabetes. A total of 128 full text articles were retrieved. Studies that discussed protocol development were excluded along with opinion papers. Qualitative and quantitative data were accepted. Reference lists from citations were also assessed for any relevant previous comprehensive reviews. The final number of citations that met the criteria for review was 33. A total of 12 manuscripts addressed the role of family and friends as social support options. The remainder addressed components of social support related to peer group and technology.

A collaborative process that includes social support interventions is an alternative to help address adherence issues, and can be considered for patients with diabetes. Methods to improve and encourage patients to manage their diabetes through social support mechanisms will be explored with an emphasis on family and friends. Table 1 shows several descriptive and intervention studies of social support among patients with diabetes, organized by lead author in alphabetical order. Publication year and purpose along with study sample, design, setting, methods, measures and brief statistical analysis are also summarized. The major findings, overall strengths/limitations and implications for practitioners are also given in Table 1.