Association of HbA1c with emotion regulation, intolerance of uncertainty, and purpose in life in type 2 diabetes mellitus

Norman H. Rasmussen, Steven A. Smith, Julie A. Maxson, Matthew E. Bernard, Stephen S. Cha, David C. Agerter, Nilay D. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background The extant literature lacks breadth on psychological variables associated with health outcome for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). This investigation extends the scope of psychological information by reporting on previously unpublished factors. Objective To investigate if intolerance of uncertainty, emotion regulation, or purpose in life differentiate T2DM adults with sustained high HbA1c (HH) vs. sustained acceptable HbA 1c (AH). Subjects and methods Cross-sectional observational study. Adult patients with diagnosed T2DM meeting inclusionary criteria for AH, HH, or a nondiabetic reference group (NDR) were randomly selected and invited to participate. Patients who consented and participated resulted in a final sample of 312 subgrouped as follows: HH (n = 108); AH (n = 98); and NDR (n = 106). Data sources included a survey, self-report questionnaires, and electronic medical record (EMR). Results HH individuals with T2DM reported lower purpose in life satisfaction (p = 0.005) compared to the NDR group. The effect size for this finding is in the small-to-medium range using Cohen's guidelines for estimating clinical relevance. The HH-AH comparison on purpose in life was nonsignificant. The emotion regulation and intolerance of uncertainty comparisons across the three groups were not significant. Conclusions The present study determined that lower purpose in life satisfaction is associated with higher HbA1c. In a T2DM patient with sustained high HbA1c, the primary care clinician is encouraged to consider screening for purpose in life satisfaction by asking a single question such as "Do the things you do in your life seem important and worthwhile?" The patient's response will assist the clinician in determining if meaning or purpose in life distress may be interferring with diabetes self-care. If this is the case, the clinician can shift the conversation to the value of behavioral and emotional health counseling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-221
Number of pages9
JournalPrimary Care Diabetes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Emotion regulation
  • HbA
  • Intolerance of uncertainty
  • Primary care
  • Purpose in life satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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