A self-instructional program on reproductive health can help teen girls with type 1 diabetes better understand the risks accompanying pregnancy for diabetic women, as well as the importance of family planning, a pilot study demonstrates.
Dr. Denise Charron-Prochownik of the University of Pittsburgh and her colleagues previously found that adolescent girls with diabetes didn’t know that the disease poses special risks during pregnancy and that counseling before conception is available to help reduce these risks. Charron-Prochownik and her team also found that many of the girls were having already having unsafe sex.
Charron-Prochownik and her colleagues tested a program they developed called READY-Girl (Reproductive Health Education and Awareness of Diabetes in Youth for Girls). The program, which consists of a book and CD, offers information about how diabetes affects puberty, reproductive health, sexuality and pregnancy, and is also designed to help girls develop their decision-making and communications skills.
They randomly assigned 53 girls, who were between the ages of 16 and 19.9 years old, to receive the book, the CD, or standard care, and assessed their knowledge, beliefs, level of social support, and blood glucose control at the study’s outset, immediately after the intervention, and again 3 months later.
The book and the CD took the girls less than 1 hour to review. Both interventions improved their knowledge about diabetes and reproductive health and their beliefs on the benefits of preconception counseling and family planning. Girls in the intervention groups also felt they had more social support regarding reproductive health issues than those who didn’t receive the material.
In practice, the CD and book would be used together, the researchers note, but are not intended to replace professional health education.
They conclude: “Programs such as READY-Girl could potentially set new standards of practice and be an integral part of diabetic adolescent education to empower teens in making informed decisions about their reproductive health.”
SOURCE: Diabetes Care, July 2008.