Relationship Between Social Network, Social Support and Health Behaviour in People With Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Cross-Sectional Studies

Nana F. Hempler; Lene E. Joensen; Ingrid Willaing


BMC Public Health. 2016;16(198) 

In This Article


Background: Psychosocial and behavioural aspects of diabetes may differ according to diabetes type. This study compared people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes with respect to social relations (cohabitation status, contact with the social network and social support) and health behaviours (diet and physical activity). Furthermore, we examined whether potential differences in health behaviour between people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes were influenced by education level and social relations.

Methods: We conducted two cross-sectional surveys consisting of people with type 2 diabetes (N = 1081) and type 1 diabetes (N = 2419) from a specialist diabetes clinic. Gender-stratified stepwise multiple regression models assessed differences by diabetes type and other variables of interest.

Results: Significant associations were found between diabetes type and social network, social support and health behaviour. No differences were observed regarding cohabitation status. People with type 2 diabetes were less physically active, less likely to follow recommended diet (men), had fewer contacts with family and friends and were less certain of counting on help in case of severe illness than people with type 1 diabetes. No impact of education level, social network and social support were observed concerning differences in health behaviours by diabetes type; however, in women, the association between physical activity and diabetes type was not significant after adjustment for social relations and education level.

Conclusions: People with type 2 diabetes had less contact with the social network, less certainty about support in case of severe illness and fewer healthy behaviours than people with type 1 diabetes. It may be important to draw attention to differences in health behaviours and social relations between people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes in diabetes care, patient education and support initiatives.