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Diabetic adolescents worry about impact of injections

NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka
STUDIES conducted by the University of Zambia (UNZA) have revealed that female adolescents with type 1 diabetes worry that they may not find marriage partners because of effects they suffer on their bodies due to multiple insulin shots.
UNZA Psychologist Dr Given Hapunda said recommended spots for insulin shots are thighs, abdomen, shoulders and buttocks which are the most prized cosmetic body parts especially for females.
“The studies shockingly revealed that some parents advised their young daughters to stop injecting themselves with insulin because it would damage their bodies,” Dr Hapunda said.
He said adolescents with type 1 diabetes suffered from diabetes related stress, stemming from injecting themselves with multiple insulin shots a day, difficulties accessing medical essentials like insulin, and how they will adjust in future roles such as work occupations and as spouses.
Dr Hapunda said the study also revealed that adolescents suffered from discrimination from peers at school because they thought diabetes was a contagious disease.
He said because stress and depression have been linked with the development of diabetes itself and affects diabetes self-care, it is important that patients find adaptive stress coping strategies.
Unfortunately, Dr Hapunda said, the study showed that some adolescents used non-adaptive coping strategies such as avoiding the stress by not injecting themselves insulin.
“Adaptive coping strategies include accepting the condition, normalising the condition and sometimes getting spiritual and family support. To the contrary, a number of adolescents with diabetes report lack of family, peer and sometimes medical officers’ support,” he said.
Dr Hapunda said improving healthcare of patients with diabetes will have trickle down effects on psychosocial problems that individuals with diabetes go through.
He said it is also important that a multidisciplinary team including a medical doctor, nutritionist, nurse, cardiologist and psychologist or psychiatrist attend to people with diabetes.
Dr Hapunda said education and sensitisation on diabetes should be intensified especially in schools.

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