JDRF Awards New Grant to Explore Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Reduce Diabetes Distress
New York, NY, September 30, 2021—JDRF, the leading global nonprofit funder of type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, announces a new grant awarded to Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System. Led by endocrinologist Shivani Agarwal, M.D., M.P.H., and by psychologist Jeffrey Gonzalez, Ph.D., the study will utilize telemedicine to deliver cognitive behavioral therapy to young adults with T1D to reduce diabetes-related distress.
“JDRF is excited to support the work of Drs. Agarwal and Gonzalez, and their team in the exploration of methods to alleviate diabetes distress in young adults,” says Sanjoy Dutta, Ph.D., JDRF Vice President of Research. “Psychosocial research is a priority for JDRF as we believe the avenues of supportive mental health care across all ages and stages of disease will better benefit the community as an aspect of management.”
Primary research shows that young adults with T1D have high levels of diabetes distress and some of the highest blood sugar levels, measured by HbA1c, among all age groups with T1D. To date, not many studies have specifically targeted diabetes distress in young adults with this disease, and it remains unknown whether interventions can positively impact blood-sugar management in this population.
“We are looking forward to testing ready-for-practice care solutions that address unmet psychological needs of young adults with T1D,” says Dr. Agarwal, assistant professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Director of the Supporting Emerging Adults with Diabetes (SEAD) program at Montefiore. “We are excited to partner with JDRF to conduct this important study.”
This New York City-based study will recruit 150 young adults nationally, aged 18 to 30, to evaluate whether telemedicine-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy, plus continuous glucose monitor (CGM), will yield significant improvement in both diabetes distress and blood-sugar control, compared with CGM alone—which has become the current standard of T1D care. Recruitment efforts will include young adults from non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic backgrounds who may be primarily Spanish-speaking to demonstrate the reach of the approach to underserved communities.
“After years of research documenting the negative impact of diabetes distress on quality of life and health outcomes in diabetes, I’m thrilled to be part of a team that is aiming to do something about it,” says Dr. Gonzalez, professor of medicine and of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, clinical psychologist at Montefiore, and professor of psychology at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University. “This is a unique opportunity to rigorously test a short-term behavioral health solution for diabetes distress that, if successful, can be widely disseminated.”
If successful, this treatment—in addition to providing a scientific understanding of diabetes distress and blood-sugar control in young adults—will support a new, billable model of care for T1D that can be quickly integrated into current clinical practice.
To learn more about JDRF research, please visit https://www.jdrf.org/impact/research/.
About Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)
T1D is a chronic, life-threatening autoimmune disease that can strike children and adults at any age. It requires rigorous 24/7 monitoring of blood-glucose levels—even overnight—to avoid potentially lethal highs and lows in blood sugar, as well as other devastating complications like kidney, eye, heart, and nerve diseases. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. Its onset is sudden and is not related to diet or lifestyle. In T1D, the body’s immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, meaning the body produces little to no insulin to regulate blood sugar and get energy from food. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and—at present—nothing you can do to get rid of it.
JDRF’s mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent, and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than $2.5 billion in research funding since our inception. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout the United States and our five international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement, and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit jdrf.org or follow us on Twitter (@JDRF), Facebook (@myjdrf), and Instagram (@jdrfhq).