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$3.4 Million Award to Study Internet Coping Skills for Diabetic Children


New Haven, Conn. — The National Institute of Nursing Research has awarded Yale University School of Nursing (YSN) $3.4 million to compare the effectiveness of Internet-based coping skills training versus an Internet education program for diabetic children.

The goal is to improve type 1 diabetes management, metabolic control, and quality of life in adolescents. Leading the study are Margaret Grey, dean of the nursing school, and Robin Whittemore, associate professor.

“Teens with type 1 diabetes are often the only student in their school with diabetes,” Whittemore said. “They feel different at a time when they want to be accepted by friends. We want to see teens healthy, both physically and emotionally.”

Grey said technological advances and access to the Internet have made cyberspace a viable tool for the delivery of coping skills training. It also allows health care practitioners to reach more adolescents.

The education program provides age-appropriate information about healthy eating, exercise, and preventing and managing sick days for youth with type 1 diabetes. The teen coping skills program provides information and exercises to assist teens with social problem-solving situations that may interfere with type 1 diabetes management or may be potentially awkward or difficult, such as telling a new friend about their diabetes. Teens are also able to interact with other teens in this program to learn from one another.

The sites use eye-catching animations and graphics and invite users to meet other adolescents with type 1 diabetes online. “We have found that 40-50 percent of kids could not meet with a group due to their activities,” Grey said. “Now we are able to connect with them on their own time.”

Both programs were developed by Grey, Whittemore, and their research team, including Yale’s Information Technology department. The websites are password protected and available only to study participants in order to assure the privacy and security of the teen participants.

YSN enjoys a national and international reputation for excellence in teaching, research, and clinical practice. One of Yale University’s professional colleges, YSN is a leading school of nursing in the United States, enjoying a diverse community of scholars and clinicians with a common goal: better health care for all people.


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