Date of Award

5-2004

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Janice Zeman

Second Committee Member

Cynthia Erdley

Third Committee Member

Marie Hayes

Abstract

The present study investigated three emotion competence skills in 34 adolescents with diabetes in good metabolic control, 30 adolescents with diabetes in poor metabolic control and 29 adolescents without a chronic illness. Forty-six females and 47 males participated with ages ranging from 11 years, 2 months to 16 years, 11 months. (M age = 13 years, 9 months). Each adolescent also had one parent participate, primarily their mothers. Adolescents were administered open ended interviews and questionnaires assessing self- and other-identification of emotions, emotional understanding, alexithymia, use of emotional vocabulary, illness management behaviors, and illness attitudes. Parents completed questionnaires assessing their child's emotional expressivity and understanding and psychopathology. A measure of metabolic control (glycohemoglobin) was obtained from the medical records of adolescents with diabetes. Overall, findings indicated that adolescents in good metabolic control exhibit less access to emotional experience and endorsed less sophisticated strategies for emotional identification than healthy adolescents. Adolescents in poorer metabolic control were not significantly different from either the good metabolic control or healthy adolescent groups in terms of the emotional competence skills assessed. Based on emotional development theory (Saarni, 1999), findings suggest that disruptions in development of emotion recognition and vocabulary may actually serve as a protective factor with respect to one's ability to manage his or her illness. Further research is necessary in order to determine if there are possible links between other emotional competence skills or patterns of emotional responding and disease management.

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