Journal of Psychosomatic Research vol:76 pages:139-145
Objective. The present study examined (1) mean-level differences in self-esteem and Big Five personality traits between individuals with and without diabetes; and (2) demographic, clinical, and psychological correlates of patients’ self-esteem and Big Five.
Research design and methods. A total of 478 emerging adults with type 1 diabetes (18-35 years old) were selected from the Belgian Diabetes Registry and completed questionnaires on personality, self-esteem, and diabetes-related distress. The control group consisted of 341 healthy participants who were matched (1:1) on sex and age with the patient group.
Results. First, mean-level differences between patients and controls differed according to patients’ sex and illness duration. Women with diabetes reported lower self-esteem and were less extraverted and emotionally stable as compared to female controls. In contrast, men with diabetes reported higher self-esteem and were more agreeable but less emotionally stable as compared to male controls. Furthermore, whereas both patients with shorter and longer illness duration were less extraverted and emotionally stable as compared to controls, only patients with longer illness duration reported heightened agreeableness. Second, self-esteem and Big Five were found to relate to patients’ sex and (to a lesser extent) age and illness duration. Finally, patients reporting elevated diabetes-related distress reported lower self-esteem, and were less agreeable and emotionally stable as compared to patients not reporting such distress.
Conclusions. Patients’ personality and self-esteem might be important targets for future prevention and intervention efforts. The present findings can assist healthcare professionals in identifying those patients who might benefit the most from such programs.