Cognitive Adaptation Theory as a Predictor of Adjustment to Emerging Adulthood for Youth with and Without Type 1 Diabetes

Published In: Journal of Psychosomatic Research, v. 77, no. 6, Dec. 2014, p. 484-491

Posted on RAND.org on December 16, 2014

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

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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the study was to determine whether resilience, defined by cognitive adaptation theory, predicted emerging adulthood outcomes among youth with and without type 1 diabetes. METHODS: Youth with (n = 118) and without type 1 diabetes (n = 122), who were part of a previous longitudinal study during adolescence, completed on-line questionnaires during their senior year of high school and one and two years later. They were average age 18, 53% female, and 93% white. Questionnaires assessed cognitive adaptation theory (CAT) indicators (self-esteem, mastery, optimism) and psychological, relationship, behavioral, vocational, and, for those with diabetes, diabetes outcomes. RESULTS: The CAT index at baseline predicted reduced psychological distress, enhanced psychological well-being, increased friend support, reduced friend conflict, the presence of romantic relationships, reduced likelihood of romantic breakups, higher GPA, higher work satisfaction, and lower work stress during the transition to emerging adulthood. Among those with diabetes, the CAT index predicted better self-care behavior and revealed a marginal relation to better glycemic control. Analyses controlled for baseline levels when appropriate. Findings were stronger one year than two years post high school graduation, and findings were stronger for those with than without diabetes. Youth with diabetes also scored lower on the CAT index than youth without diabetes. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that the implications of CAT include not only psychological health but also relationship, vocational, and diabetes outcomes. Those who score lower on CAT indicators should be identified as children so that interventions designed to enhance resilience can be implemented.

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