Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 480–492 | Cite as

Patient and partner illness appraisals and health among adults with type 1 diabetes

  • Vicki S. HelgesonEmail author
  • Cynthia A. BergEmail author
  • Caitlin S. Kelly
  • Meredith Van Vleet
  • Melissa Zajdel
  • Enjin Lee Tracy
  • Michelle L. Litchman


In a study of 199 couples in which one person had type 1 diabetes, we examined how patient appraisal of the diabetes as shared versus individual was associated with collaborative, supportive and unsupportive behavior and whether patient shared illness appraisal was most beneficial for health when it occurred in the context of supportive behavior. We assessed illness appraisal among patients with type 1 diabetes and their partners and had patients complete relationship and health measures. Results showed partners were more likely than patients to hold shared illness appraisals. Patients’ shared appraisals were associated with more collaborative and instrumental support, more emotional support, less protective buffering, and more overprotective behavior. When patients and partners were consistent in their shared appraisals, support was highest. Regression analysis showed collaborative and instrumental support, as well as emotional support, was related to better psychological and physical health when patients held shared compared to individual illness appraisals.


Communal coping Dyadic coping Type 1 diabetes Social support Couples 



The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health DP3 DK103999.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Vicki S. Helgeson, Cynthia A. Berg, Caitlin S. Kelly, Meredith Van Vleet, Melissa Zajdel, Enjin Lee Tracy and Michelle L. Litchman declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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