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Motivational Interviews Help Diabetic Teens

Diabetes is a difficult disease to live with. Diabetics frequently have problems with their lifestyles and with the way they live, work and play for the rest of their lives. But it is significantly harder for children, specifically for teens, to deal with this life-changing disease. Recognizing this, a special technique of counseling has been developed to help Type I diabetic teens keep their sugar levels under control and their anxieties and worries at bay. Called “motivational interviewing,” this counseling technique, designed specifically for teen diabetics, was developed by researchers in the United Kingdom and featured in the journal, Diabetes Care.

According to the UK journal, the new technique involves asking a person open-ended questions, listening to and repeating the interviewee’s answers, and ideally helping a person realize on his own what is holding him back from taking action to improve his health. A key feature of this approach is the avoidance of confrontation or arguments. Researchers randomly selected 66 diabetic teens to undergo the said therapy for a year. Teens who underwent the motivational interview had an average of four visits with a counselor, while those in the control group averaged six meetings. Out of the 66 participants, 60 completed the trial.

After a year, teens in the intervention group were found to have significantly lower levels of HbAlc (a measure of long-term blood sugar control) as compared to the other group. This difference remained after a researcher re-tested them a year later.Teens who underwent motivational interviewing also had higher levels of satisfaction in their lives, and were found to be less burdened with worry and anxiety. They also believed that with self-care they could combat the disease’s long-term complications and that the disease had lesser impact in their lives.

Researchers believe that this method of therapy would contribute much to helping teens battle their way through the disease. For them, finding the key elements in making the motivational interviewing work could also lead to changes in behavior in teens and result in a better outlook on how they deal with the disease.

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