Senior Scholars Program


The relationship between coping styles in response to unfair treatment and understanding of diabetes self-care

UMMS Affiliation

Senior Scholars Program; School of Medicine; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center

Faculty Mentor

Jeroan Allison, MD, MScEpi/Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Adaptation, Psychological; *African Americans; Aged; *Attitude to Health; Cross-Sectional Studies; Educational Status; *European Continental Ancestry Group; Female; Health Status Disparities; Humans; Male; Medicare; Patient Education as Topic; *Self Care; Southeastern United States; United States


Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism | Health Psychology | Public Health Education and Promotion


PURPOSE: This study examined the relationship between coping style and understanding of diabetes self-care among African American and white elders in a southern Medicare-managed care plan.

METHODS: Participants were identified through a diabetes-related pharmacy claim or ICD-9 code and completed a computer-assisted telephone survey in 2006-2007. Understanding of diabetes self-care was assessed using the Diabetes Care Profile Understanding (DCP-U) scale. Coping styles were classified as active (talk about it/take action) or passive (keep it to yourself). Linear regression was used to estimate the associations between coping style with the DCP-U, adjusting for age, sex, education, and comorbidities. Based on the conceptual model, 4 separate categories were established for African American and white participants who displayed active and passive coping styles.

RESULTS: Of 1420 participants, the mean age was 73 years, 46% were African American, and 63% were female. Most respondents (77%) exhibited active coping in response to unfair treatment. For African American participants in the study, active coping was associated with higher adjusted mean DCP-U scores when compared to participants with a passive coping style. No difference in DCP-U score was noted among white participants on the basis of coping style.

CONCLUSIONS: Active coping was more strongly associated with understanding of diabetes self-care among older African Americans than whites. Future research on coping styles may give new insights into reducing diabetes disparities among racial/ethnic minorities.

DOI of Published Version



Diabetes Educ. 2013 Nov-Dec;39(6):848-55. doi: 10.1177/0145721713507112. Epub 2013 Oct 4. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Diabetes educator


Michelle Dyke participated in this study as a medical student as part of the Senior Scholars research program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID