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Schmidt, Cynthia PhD, RN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: July-August 2007 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - p 223–229
doi: 10.1097/01.NMC.0000281961.56207.9f
feature article

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.

Mothers have major responsibilities in helping diabetic children learn how to care for their diabetes themselves. Dr. Schmidt examined how this process works.

Cynthia Schmidt is an Associate Professor, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. She can be reached via e-mail at

There are no conflicts of interest, and the author has no financial interest in or affiliation with any organization or company related to the material in this article. A complete copy of the survey used in this study can be obtained by contacting the author.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.