The Social Context and Illness Identity in Youth with Type 1 Diabetes
Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel
Youth with type 1 diabetes are confronted with the challenging task of integrating diabetes into their identity. This integration process, referred to as illness identity, may play an important role in how youth with type 1 diabetes cope with normative and illness-specific challenges. In line with socio-ecological theorizing, the present study investigated the longitudinal interplay between illness identity and two important social contexts for youth, the parent and peer contexts. A total of 559 (54.5% female; mean age = 18.8 years) adolescents (14-17 years) and emerging adults (18-25 years) with type 1 diabetes completed questionnaires at three time-points with intervals of one year. A total of 98% of these participants had the Belgian nationality, and all of them spoke Dutch. At each time point, illness identity (i.e., acceptance, enrichment, rejection, and engulfment), peer support, extreme peer orientation, parental responsiveness, parental psychological control, and parental overprotection were self-assessed. The present findings show that overprotective parenting may lead to youth feeling engulfed by their diabetes. Further, when type 1 diabetes becomes adaptively integrated into youth's identity, the data suggest that youth may be better prepared to engage in healthy peer relationships. Thus, the present findings show that illness identity may be affected by the social context, and in turn may have an impact on parent and peer relationships as well. In general, the present findings underscore the importance of adaptive illness integration for youth with type 1 diabetes, and further emphasize the importance of achieving a coherent identity.