Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is one of the most complex and demanding chronic diseases in adolescents. Given the detrimental impact of problems with executive function (EF; the ability to initiate, plan, and monitor behavior) on health outcomes in adolescents with T1D, most studies have examined common diabetes-specific outcomes related to self-management and glycemic control. This study aims to investigate the impact of executive dysfunction on health-related quality of life (HRQoL; an individual’s perceived impact of illness and treatment on daily functioning) in adolescents with T1D from a multi-informant perspective.
In this cross-sectional study, 169 adolescents (mean ± SD age 15.9 ± 1.3 years) and their parents reported on adolescent EF and HRQoL (assessed by the BRIEF and PedsQL, respectively). Parent-youth interview and chart review provided demographic and clinical characteristics. Statistical analyses encompassed bivariate correlations, t-tests, chi-squared tests, and multivariable analyses.
Adolescent self-reports and parent proxy-reports identified 13% and 32% of adolescents, respectively, as having executive dysfunction. Poorer adolescent EF was associated with poorer adolescent HRQoL by both adolescent self-report and parent proxy-report, respectively. In significant multivariable models, adjusted for adolescent age, sex, diabetes duration, and glycemic control, 21% and 24% of the variance in adolescent self-reported and parent proxy-reported HRQoL were explained by adolescent self-reported and parent proxy-reported executive dysfunction. A significant interaction of sex with adolescent self-report of executive dysfunction indicated that executive dysfunction had a greater negative impact on HRQoL in females than males (p < .01).
Findings suggest that the impact of EF problems in adolescents with T1D goes beyond diabetes-specific outcomes and focuses attention on the need to evaluate and preserve HRQoL.