Financial Incentives Can Help Teens With Diabetes Control

Adolescents with type 1 diabetes may manage their health better if they are financially rewarded, according to a new study from Yale University.

Inspired by lead researcher Nancy Petry's own childhood experiences with type 1 diabetes, the study included 10 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 who were having trouble managing the condition.

According to Petry, the teen years can be a critical time when it comes to diabetes management, as many young people are prone to missteps that lead to health problems.

“During adolescence, blood sugar testing decreases, and A1Cs begin to rise in the vast majority of patients,” Petry told Reuter's Health.

Money improves management

The study, which was conducted over 12 weeks, enabled teens to receive 10 cents every time they tested their blood sugar - which they were allowed to do up to six times per day.

Teens could also receive an additional 25 or 50 cents per day if they tested their blood sugar at even intervals at least four times per day and maintained this pattern for over a week.

Not surprisingly, the teens' average blood sugar testing increased from less than twice a day to nearly five times per day during the study, and the participants earned an average of $122 during the 12 weeks.

Reuters reported:

The participants’ average A1C levels fell from 9.3 to 8.4 during the experiment. A common goal for diabetes patients is an A1C level of 7.0 or less. Among the eight teens who were tested one year after the study, the average A1C level was 8.4, suggesting that the health benefits were sustained in the long term.

While monetary compensation may not be every parent's preferred approach to help their diabetic children, rewarding kids in some way, Petry said, could help young people develop better diabetes management practices.

"Reinforcing adolescents for [self-monitoring blood glucose] may increase testing and improve A1C," the authors wrote.

The research is published in Diabetes Care.

Source: Reuter's Health

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