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Difficulty trusting and reaching out to others may shorten diabetes patients' lives
Date:3/17/2010

nd it hard to trust or depend on others. Others can be indifferent to close relationships, preferring instead to be free and self-reliant.

"These ways of relating often extend to their relationships with health-care providers," the researchers said.

Regardless of their style, most patients Ciechanowski and his colleagues have studied over several projects perceive health care as rushed, impersonal and fragmented. Those with an independent style also reported feeling threatened by the power health-care providers had. Some were highly attuned to signs of rejection; others were sensitive to being controlled, and at the same time worried that help would not be available for them. Those with an independent style in relationships often felt a wall existed between patients and providers.

Interactive patients tended to understand the pressures health professionals were under, and overlooked minor shortcomings, previous research by Ciechanowski and his team has found. Such patients were more likely to value ongoing relationships with their providers, even when circumstances weren't ideal, and respected their training and knowledge.

During the course of the most recent study, diabetes patients who were mistrustful of people, including health-care providers, had a 33 percent higher mortality rate than those who interacted easily with others and sought comfort and support. The researchers found the significantly higher risk of death among diabetes patients who were less likely to seek support still held after controlling for other potential risk factors for mortality such as age, marital status, other medical conditions, complications of diabetes and body mass index.

The exact mechanisms behind the link between an independent relationship style and a higher mortality rate are not yet known, the researchers said, and further research is needed to delineate the reasons and to develop effective interventions.

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Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@u.washington.edu
206-685-0381
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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