Relations of Behavioral Autonomy to Health Outcomes Among Emerging Adults with and Without Type 1 Diabetes

Published In: Journal of Pediatric Psychology, v. 39, no. 10, Nov. 2014, p. 1126-1137

Posted on RAND.org on November 01, 2014

by Vicki S. Helgeson, Kerry Reynolds, Dorothy J. Becker, Oscar Escobar, Linda M. Siminerio

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OBJECTIVE: To examine the relation of behavioral autonomy to psychological, behavioral, and physical health among emerging adults with and without type 1 diabetes. METHODS: High school seniors with (n = 118) and without type 1 diabetes (n = 122) completed online questionnaires for three consecutive years. Behavioral autonomy, psychological health, risk behaviors, and diabetes outcomes were assessed. Regression analyses were conducted to predict Time 2 and 3 outcomes, controlling for Time 1 outcomes. RESULTS: There were no group differences in behavioral autonomy. Behavioral autonomy predicted better psychological health but only for emerging adults without diabetes. Behavioral autonomy was related to increased risk behavior for both groups. Behavioral autonomy was unrelated to self-care but predicted better glycemic control for females. CONCLUSIONS: Behavioral autonomy may be beneficial for psychological health, but is related to increased risk behavior. The implications of behavioral autonomy for emerging adults with type 1 diabetes require careful consideration.

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