To assess the efficacy of a manualized occupational therapy (OT) intervention (Resilient, Empowered, Active Living with Diabetes [REAL Diabetes]) to improve glycemic control and psychosocial well-being among ethnically diverse young adults with low socioeconomic status (SES) who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Eighty-one young adults (age 22.6 ± 3.5 years; hemoglobin A1c [HbA1c] = 10.8%/95 mmol/mol ± 1.9%/20.8 mmol/mol) were randomly assigned to the REAL Diabetes intervention group (IG) or an attention control group (CG) over 6 months. IG participants received biweekly sessions guided by a manual composed of seven content modules; CG participants received standardized educational materials and biweekly phone calls. Blinded assessors collected data at baseline and 6 months. The primary outcome was HbA1c; secondary outcomes included diabetes self-care, diabetes-related quality of life (QOL), diabetes distress, depressive symptoms, and life satisfaction. Change scores were analyzed using Wilcoxon rank sum tests.
Intent-to-treat analyses showed that IG participants showed significant improvement in HbA1c (–0.57%/6.2 mmol/mol vs. +0.36%/3.9 mmol/mol, P = 0.01), diabetes-related QOL (+0.7 vs. +0.15, P = 0.04), and habit strength for checking blood glucose (+3.9 vs. +1.7, P = 0.05) as compared with CG participants. There was no statistically significant effect modification by sex, ethnicity, diabetes type, recruitment site, or SES. No study-related serious adverse events were reported.
The REAL Diabetes intervention improved blood glucose control and diabetes-related QOL among a typically hard-to-reach population, thus providing evidence that a structured OT intervention may be beneficial in improving both clinical and psychosocial outcomes among individuals with diabetes.