Background: Emerging adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) face unique challenges due to the transition from adolescence to adulthood and increased independence over self-care. Only recently have studies started to focus on protective psychosocial factors in T1D, including the role of optimism on health, however studies examining possible mechanisms between positive factors and health outcomes are lacking.
Methods: This cross-sectional study examined the associations between protective psychosocial factors (optimism, positive efficacy expectancies, self-compassion), poor psychological functioning (stress, anxiety, depression) and self-care behaviours and glycaemic control (HbA1c) in 113 emerging adults (17-25 years) with T1D. Pearson’s correlations, linear regression and Sobel’s test were used to examine associations and mediating variables.
Results: Optimism, positive efficacy expectancies and self-compassion correlated positively with self-care behaviours (r’s ranged from .274 to .335, p-values <.01). Optimism (r = -.320, p<.001) and positive efficacy expectancies (r = -.293, p<.002) correlated negatively with HbA1c. Self-care was found to partially mediate the relationship between optimism and HbA1c (z =2.58, p=.01) and between positive efficacy expectancies and HbA1c (z = 3.00, p=.003).
Conclusion: This study is the first to examine mechanisms underlying the relationship between protective psychosocial factors and HbA1c in emerging adults with T1D. Implications for interventions are discussed.