Young adult counselors with diabetes at diabetes camps: The
effect of being a peer mentor on counselors’ health behavior
Manning, A. S., Pollock, M., Clements, B., Furutani, E., Brotkin, S., Mansfield, J., Kupersmidt, J., Fritz, G., & Maslow, G. (2018). Young adult counselors with diabetes at diabetes camps: The effect of being a peer mentor on counselors’ health behavior. Journal of Youth Development, 13(1-2), 250-265. http://jyd.pitt.edu/ojs/jyd/article/view/181301RES02
Objectives: Adolescents and young adults (AYA) with type I diabetes (T1D) often struggle with illness management. Although diabetes camps have been shown to improve blood sugar control among campers, the effect of the camp experience on counselors’ diabetes self-management has never been studied. In addition to the camp environment, it was hypothesized that peer factors among counselors, such as diabetes role modeling, would positively influence diabetes self-care behaviors and that counselors would be able to select diabetes role models based on these appropriate self-management behaviors.
Methods: Counselors with T1D working at 2 summer camps were recruited to participate. Participants completed questionnaires including the Diabetes Behavior Rate Scale (DBRS) and a peer-assessment form in which participants were asked to nominate friends as diabetes role models, and to assign a role model score for each counselor.
Results: Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c), a measure of blood sugar control, was obtained pre- and postcamp. Thirty-three participants completed the study. The average HbA1c score decreased 0.4% (p < .01) over the 6 to 10 weeks of camp indicating improved metabolic control at camp. The number of nominations for diabetes role model was associated with diabetes self-care (r = 0.351, p = 0.027). Diabetes role model scores were not associated with diabetes self-care (r = 0.272, p = 0.074). There was no correlation between HbA1c and diabetes self-care.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that the camp counselor role is a potential target for intervention to promote positive outcomes for AYA with T1D. Lessons learned from how AYA with diabetes support one another at camp can be applied to community-based interventions for youth with T1D or other chronic illnesses.