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Uncertainty and the Duration of Disease in Adults with Type 1 Diabetes

Lisa M. Acuff, MS, Jennfier M. Jabson, PhD


Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between type 1 diabetes duration and uncertainty. According to the Reconceptualized Uncertainty in Illness Theory, it was hypothesized that longer duration would be associated with less uncertainty.

Research Design and Method: A sample of 379 people with type 1 diabetes recruited from the T1D Exchange completed an online survey. The online survey measured disease duration, uncertainty, and demographic characteristics. Multiple variable linear regression was calculated to test for an association between diabetes duration (in years) and uncertainty in diabetes self-management. Post hoc one-way analysis of variance with Tukey’s HSD test was calculated to investigate uncertainty at five and ten-year disease duration intervals.

Results: With adjustment for age, gender, and education, diabetes duration was negatively associated with uncertainty (b = -0.15, p= .03; 95% CI = -0.28, -0.01). Uncertainty was lowest among the 64 participants with a duration equal to or greater than 40 years (M=63.53, SD=15.04). In Tukey’s HSD post hoc test, the mean difference on the uncertainty scores for 5 to < 10 years diabetes duration (n=38, M=72.66, SD=14.51) and 40 or more years diabetes duration was significant (p = 0.02, 95% CI = 0.81, 17.44).

Conclusions: Individuals with longer disease duration reported less uncertainty related to self-management, and uncertainty varied by duration interval. These findings provide preliminary information about where to place behavioral interventions designed to reduce uncertainty among individuals with type 1 diabetes.

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