The American Diabetes Association (ADA) released its first position statement that includes detailed guidelines for psychosocial assessments and care based on factors including age, type of diabetes, and family support system. 

The specific recommendations are available in “Psychosocial Care for People with Diabetes: A Position Statement of the America Diabetes Association” which will be published in Diabetes Care.

The ADA’s guidelines address the most common psychological factors affecting patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, including diabetes distress, depression, anxiety and eating disorders. It emphasizes that diabetes management is more successful when lifestyle and emotional status are integrated into diabetes care. 

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The position statement was based on diabetes research and recommendations combined with expertise of the study authors. Alicia McAuliffe-Fogarty, PhD, clinical health psychologist and vice president of the lifestyle management team at the ADA added, “People with diabetes have a greater risk of depression and anxiety, and while medical providers are trained to help people manage the medical aspects of their disease, they are not always taught to understand the impact that psychosocial factors have on people living with diabetes. Every person’s needs are different, so individualized, patient-focused care that includes a mental health component should be a part of a comprehensive diabetes care plan for every person with diabetes.”

Clinicians are encouraged to assess the patient’s emotional health and life circumstances during the first visit, and to perform necessary evaluations thereafter, even when the patient has not indicated any issues exist. The statement also includes a list of screening tools and other resources for psychosocial issues. The patient’s individual needs, values, and life stage should be considered when deciding the appropriate tools and mental health referrals. Moreover, patients should be referred to mental health professionals who are experienced with the issues dealt by patients with diabetes.

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