Purpose: To provide insight into mothers' perceptions of their children's development of diabetes-related capabilities and identify factors that influence these capabilities.
Study Design and Method: Mothers' perceptions of children's self-care practices were solicited using an 84-item fixed choice instrument authored by this investigator. Items that were based on the literature and results of a preliminary qualitative study solicited information regarding self-care practices, independence in management, parental involvement, dietary adherence, precision in skills, attitude about diabetes, and ability to manage abnormal blood glucose levels. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data.
Results: Forty-six boys and 42 girls aged 6 to 18 years were represented by the 88 mothers in this study. According to the mothers, children demonstrated higher levels of self-care abilities, independence, precision, and ability to manage blood glucose levels as they aged. The mothers believed, however, that older children had more negative attitudes about diabetes than did younger children. Girls learned skills earlier and were more independent in diabetes-related self-care, yet they had more difficulty than boys in adhering to dietary requirements. Some findings indicated the children engaged in behaviors that were potentially life-threatening or at least deleterious to their future health.
Clinical Implications: Nurses can use this study to help encourage parents to stay involved with their children's self-care practices into the adolescent years. Providing opportunities for communication with others who have type 1 diabetes should be encouraged. Knowledge of age and gender differences can help establish realistic expectations for self-care.