“Gratitude journaling,” or listing positive aspects of life, may help adolescents with type 1 diabetes reduce their A1C levels (a measure of glucose control over the previous 2–3 months), according to a new study published in the journal Diabetic Medicine.
Previous research has indicated that certain psychological interventions can help improve mental health in youth with type 1. To evaluate the effects of gratitude journaling in this group, researchers worked with 60 adolescents with an average age of 12.2 years and average A1C levels of 8.4% in Auckland, New Zealand. The participants were randomly assigned to either 8 weeks of gratitude journaling — in which they listed three positive aspects of their life each day — or to their regular care.
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Although the journaling was meant to be a daily practice, 55% of the group did not meet this goal. However, multiple entries each week were recorded by 26% of the participants and weekly entries were completed by 29% of the youth. After 12 weeks, those who were assigned to the journaling had an average A1C level of 8.3%, compared to 8.9% for those in the standard care group. Those who journaled the most frequently had lower A1C levels than those who had journaled less. Unexpectedly, journaling did not seem to have an effect on psychological factors such as stress, quality of life, self-care, depression and gratitude.
“Changes in [A1C] due to a psychological intervention alone are difficult to achieve and so this pilot study provides a basis for future research into this area,” the researchers note. “Developing psychosocial interventions that are feasible and appeal to this population remains an important goal for future research.”
Want to learn more about parenting a child with type 1 diabetes? Read “The Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis,” “Type 1 Diabetes and Sleepovers or Field Trips,” “Writing a Section 504 Plan for Diabetes” and “Top 10 Tips for Better Blood Glucose Control.”
Senior Digital Editor for DiabetesSelfManagement.com, Fennell has 16 years’ experience specializing in diabetes and related health conditions. Based in New York City, she has a degree from Columbia University.