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Assessing strengths of children with type 1 diabetes: Validation of the Diabetes Strengths and Resilience (DSTAR) measure for ages 9 to 13

Adaptive diabetes-specific attitudes and behaviors, known as diabetes strengths, relate to positive self-management and quality of life outcomes in type 1 diabetes (T1D), but have not been studied in preadolescence. To facilitate strengths-based care and research on this topic, we developed and evaluated the psychometric properties of a measure of diabetes strengths for children age 9 to 13. Participants were 187 children receiving care for T1D at a tertiary care children’s hospital. They completed the 12-item self-report Diabetes Strengths and Resilience scale for children (DSTAR-Child), which we adapted from a measure validated for adolescents. Youth completed the DSTAR-Child twice, and measures of relevant constructs at baseline: general and diabetes-related quality of life, depressive symptoms, and diabetes distress. Parents rated children’s engagement in self-management behaviors and general resilience. We extracted HbA1c from the medical record. The DSTAR-Child total score demonstrated reliability, including internal consistency and stability across two time points. The total score was significantly associated in expected directions with psychosocial measures and glycemic control but not self-management behaviors. In confirmatory factor analyses, the best-fitting structure contained two latent factors tapping intrapersonal and interpersonal strengths. Resulting subscale scores also appeared reliable and valid. This brief, practical measure of diabetes strengths demonstrated sound psychometric properties. Diabetes strengths appeared unrelated to self-management behaviors, perhaps because of the primary role of adult caregivers in T1D management for preadolescents. As a research and clinical tool, the DSTAR-Child can facilitate greater understanding of diabetes strengths and inform strengths-based strategies to foster resilient T1D outcomes.

Authors: Iturralde E; Hood KK; Weissberg-Benchell J; Anderson BJ; Hilliard ME

Pediatr Diabetes. 2019 11;20(7):1007-1015. Epub 2019-07-29.

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