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Managing Type 1 diabetes as an adolescent

AURORA, Colo. (March 14, 2014) The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes (BDC) will receive a $2.1 million grant to help teach adolescents with Type 1 diabetes how to manage their disease and improve their health outcomes and quality of life. The study is called the Flexible Lifestyle 3mpowering Change (FL3X). For most people, being diagnosed with diabetes is a life changing and traumatic event. For a teenager it can be worse. This study will assist teens in managing their insulin, checking their blood sugar and keeping themselves healthy which can be an enormous task.

"Teaching youth to better manage all of the daily tasks of diabetes and helping them to engage actively in problem solving according to their needs, holds great promise and we have this opportunity with this study," said one of the awardees and principal investigator David Maahs, MD, PhD, an associate professor with the School of Medicine. "A pilot study recently completed with 61 teenagers had overwhelmingly positive outcomes with the teens expressing how happy they were to have someone who listened to their concerns living with diabetes. The pilot study was very effective in its capacity to address the realities of these young people's lives."

The study will position diabetes educators as health coaches who teach youth to identify issues that impede their diabetes care and help find solutions that work individually for teens in their daily lives. These educators also work with teen's family members to establish support systems that reduce conflict and build positive communication patterns. The real goals are for these educators to help adolescents better manage their diabetes by checking their blood sugar, giving the right amount of insulin, choosing a healthy diet and engaging in appropriate physical activity.

Other health care providers that are involved in the trainings are a professor of nutrition, a psychologist and health coaches who will deliver the interventions. These providers are Certified Diabetes Educators who will all be trained in a behavioral intervention using motivational interviewing and problem solving skills among other principles. The study team represents a wide array of expertise that gives the study a unique approach to help teens manage their diabetes by addressing behavior, diet, physical activity, social, and family communication issues.

This study will comprise 250 teens ages 13-16 who have Type 1 Diabetes, many of which are considered high-risk kids and who are also under insured. They will start recruiting adolescents in April and will follow the adolescents for 1 1/2 years. The total amount for the grant is $7 million and other collaborators in the study are scientists from Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health. This study is being funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIH/NIDDKD).


Contact: Jackie Brinkman
University of Colorado Denver

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