Study Finds Couples Intervention May Help Partners of Patients with Diabetes

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By : dLife Editors

A new study finds that couples intervention may have beneficial effects for partners of individuals with type 2 diabetes.

The study was a three-arm randomized telephone intervention trial comparing outcomes of couples calls (CC), individual calls (IC), and diabetes education calls (DE).

While the focus of the trial was on diabetes outcomes for the patients, the authors also assessed whether partners who participated in the study got any benefits.

Compared with partners in the “individual calls”  and “diabetes education call” groups (who were not involved), “couples calls” partners (who were actively involved to promote collaboration and communal coping) had greater reductions in diabetes distress (the worries and stress they feel because their partner has diabetes), greater increases in marital satisfaction, and some improvements in diastolic blood pressure.

Partners’ average age was 55.8 years, 64.6% were female and 29.9% were from minority ethnic groups.

There were no significant group differences in weight loss, or in changes related to diet and activity that might foster weight loss, suggesting that these behaviors would need to be directly targeted at partners to help them change.

“Providers often worry about engaging partners, for fear they’ll become a member of the ‘diabetes police’ and cause tension in the relationship,” said lead author, Dr. Paula Trief, of SUNY Upstate Medical University. “We found that involved partners benefited emotionally, and also felt better about their relationship, as they worked together to deal with the challenges of diabetes.”

The authors conclude that collaborative couples intervention resulted in significant improvements in partner diabetes distress and relationship satisfaction.

“There were no consistent effects on behavioral or medical partner outcomes, and no evidence of diet or activity behavior ripple effects, suggesting that partners should be targeted directly to achieve these changes,” they state.

The research has been published in Diabetic Medicine.


  1. Couples intervention may help partners of patients with diabetes. (2018. Jan. 9) EurekAlert! Retrieved: