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Depression Not Tied to Diabetes Control in Elderly

Apr 25, 2006

There is no strong relationship between depression in elderly patients with diabetes and the degree to which they control their blood sugar levels, researchers report. Dr. Paula M. Trief states that, "We often assume that elderly diabetes patients who are depressed will not benefit from clinical intervention programs unless their depression improves." "This study suggests that this is not the case; depressed patients can improve and thus should be included."

Trief, of SUNY Upstate University, Syracuse, New York, and colleagues describe their study of about 1600 elderly diabetic Medicare beneficiaries in the medical journal Diabetes Care. The participants were taking part in an investigation of a diabetes case management program.

There was a significant correlation between depression and diabetes control at the beginning of the study. However, depression did not predict a change in blood sugar control in patients, whether they were randomly assigned to the intervention or to usual care.

Thus, the investigators conclude, depression is not a factor in diabetes control, and it should not be used to exclude patients from programs designed to improve how well they manage their condition.

Also worth investigating, said Trief, is "whether depression affects other aspects of a diabetes patient’s life; for example, adherence to diet or exercise, and family relationships."
Diabetes Care April 2006.


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