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Comparing the Effect of Coping Style on Anxiety, Depression, and Disordered Eating in People with Diabulimia

1 July 2019


Diabulimia is the manipulation or omission of insulin by people with diabetes for the purpose of weight loss. Research has been done identifying that anxiety and depression is commonly comorbid in people with diabulimia, but little has been studied to identify effective coping strategies for this population. In order to understand if there is a relationship between coping style and health outomes, people with diabulimia were asked to provide information about their preferred methods of coping, their current levels of anxiety and depression, and any disordered eating behaviors they currently engage in. An anonymous online survey was used to distribute the Brief COPE, General Anxiety Disorder-7, Patient Health Questionnaire-9, and Patient Health Questionnaire-15 Questions About Eating to participants. 76 complete and eligible responses were collected, and a series of independent-sample t-tests were conducted to assess the hypothesis that people who use problem/solution-focused coping strategies would report significantly lower rates of anxiety, depression, and disordered eating behaviors than those who use emotion-focused coping strategies. The data demonstrated that people who reported using problem/solution focused coping (n = 42) reported significantly lower levels of anxiety p = .000, mean difference 7.05 95% CI [4.46-9.64]; depression p = .000, mean difference 9.68 95% CI [6.72-12.63]; and disordered eating behaviors p = .005, mean difference 1.53 95% CI [0.48-2.58] than those who reported using emotion-focused coping (n = 28). These findings may inform diabetes educators, mental health workers, and medical doctors working with the population of people with diabulimia by providing data on specific coping skills that correlate with better mental health outcomes.


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