Protective factors, health-risk behaviours and the impact of coexisting ADHD among adolescents with diabetes and other chronic conditions

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Mental health problems are increasing in Swedish adolescents and mortality rates are higher in this age group than among younger. 10-20% of all adolescents suffer from a chronic medical condition (CC). Few protective factors (PF) and clustering of health-risk behaviours (HRB) are frequent among adolescents with CCs.One of the most common CC in Swedish adolescents is type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). Metabolic control often deteriorates during adolescence, especially in girls. Poor metabolic control is associated with increased risk for long-term complications, of which cognitive problems are common. However, the implication of cognitive/executive problems in patients with T1DM has not been sufficiently studied. Neither has the impact of neurodevelopmental problems (NDP), such as ADHD, on HRB in adolescents with CCs been analysed.Methods: In paper I and II the questionnaire ”Life and Health in Youth” was distributed to all students in year nine and year two of the upper secondary school in the county of Sörmland, 2008 (n=5771) and 2011 (n=5550). Adolescents with CCs were compared to healthy peers with regard to PFs and HRBs. In paper III, the ”Five to Fifteen” questionnaire was used in 175 paediatric patients with T1DM. Patients with indications of NDPs were compared with patients without such problems with regard to metabolic control. In paper IV, the BRIEF questionnaire and the ADHD Rating Scale as well as data from the Swedish Childhood Diabetes Registry was used in 241 adolescents with T1DM. Patients with indications of executive problems were compared with patients without such problems with regard to diabetes control.Results: CCs were associated with few PFs and clustered HRBs. The combination of CCs and low numbers of PFs was found to be associated with an increased risk of clustered HRBs. In the presence of coexisting ADHD the pattern of few PFs and clustering of HRBs was aggravated. ADHD was more common among adolescents with other CCs.Definite memory and learning problems as well as mild executive problems were associated with poor metabolic control, especially among adolescents. Executive problems were also associated with many outpatient visits and low physical activity. Girls with T1DM tended to self-report executive problems to a larger extent than boys, while parents more often reported these problems in boys.Conclusion: Knowledge about factors influencing treatment adherence and life in general is essential in the work with chronically ill adolescents. Focus must be put on enhancing PFs in order to avoid HRBs. Identification of coexisting NDPs, such as ADHD, is crucial, since such problems can adversely influence treatment adherence, HRBs and school achievements

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