PhD Graduates – Coffman

Maren J. Coffman, PhD
Spring, 2005

“The Relationship of Depression and Tangible Social Support on the Self-Efficacy of an Elderly Puerto Rican Diabetic Population”

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between diabetes-related tangible social support and depression on the self-management of diabetes in a poorly acculturated, Spanish speaking, elderly Hispanic population with type 2 diabetes.

Problem Statement: Research has shown that having an adequate, positive support system prolongs quality of life and decreases mortality rates in persons with chronic illnesses including diabetes. Those who have inadequate and/or inefficient social support networks and are depressed can develop negative patterns that may result in serious consequences for both quality and quantity of life. The value of diabetes tangible support to diabetes management is an area that has not been examined.

Methodology: This study used a descriptive correlational design with a sample of 115 elderly Hispanics with type 2 diabetes. In interview format, each of the participants completed a diabetes self-efficacy scale, a depression screening, a diabetes support scale and a demographic questionnaire. Results: The variables that were associated with improved diabetes self-management included having had diabetes education courses, having higher education levels, having a visiting nurse, and freedom from symptoms of depression. The variable that had the strongest association with diabetes self-management was diabetes tangible support. The tangible support needs that were the most predominant included the need for transportation, and communication with health care providers. The most essential source of support was family members. A surprising finding was the lack of diabetes tangible support provided by community churches.

Significance: The models tested yielded insight into the support needs of elderly Hispanics with diabetes. Understanding the relationship between depression, diabetes tangible support and diabetes management allows health care providers to adapt their approach when caring for this population. The elderly Hispanic with diabetes needs ongoing education, support and motivation to help them maintain healthy diet and exercise related behaviors.