Young Adult Counselors with Diabetes at Diabetes Camps: The Effect of Being a Peer Mentor on Counselors’ Health Behavior

Alison Stein Manning, McLean Pollock, Ben Clements, Elissa Furutani, Samuel Brotkin, Joan Mansfield, Janis Kupersmidt, Gregory Fritz, Gary Maslow


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. 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 and diabetes role models, and to assign a role model score for each counselor. Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c), a measure of blood sugar control, was obtained pre- and post-camp. 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. 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. 


type 1 diabetes; camp; self-management

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Copyright (c) 2018 Alison Stein, McLean Pollock, Ben Clements, Elissa Furutani, Samuel Brotkin, Joan Mansfield, Janis Kupersmidt, Gregory Fritz, Gary Maslow

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