The Role of Social Support in the Self-Management of Diabetes Mellitus Among a Hispanic Population


  • JoAnn Gleeson-Kreig R.N., M.S.,

  • Henrietta Bernal R.N., Ph.D.,

  • Steve Woolley M.P.H., M.S.

JoAnn Gleeson-Kreig is an Assistant Professor, Plattsburgh State University of New York, and a Doctoral Student, University of Connecticut School of Nursing. Henrietta Bernal, is a Professor, University of Connecticut School of Nursing, Storrs, and Steve Woolley, is a Senior Scientist, The Institute of Living, Hartford, Connecticut.
Address correspondence to JoAnn Gleeson-Kreig, Plattsburgh State University of New York, 101 Broad Street, Department of Nursing, Food and Nutrition, Plattsburgh, NY 12901. E-mail: joann.gleeson-kreig@


The rising incidence of diabetes mellitus continues to be a major health concern among Hispanic Americans. Social support has been found to be a relevant factor in diabetes self-management, however, it has not been explored within a Hispanic community. This cross-sectional study was therefore conducted with 95 insulin-requiring Hispanic adults to explore the composition of the support network, the type of assistance needed, the degree of satisfaction with support received, and the relationship between social support and diabetes self-management. Overall, the participants had fairly large networks, composed primarily of family members. The greatest need for assistance was associated with transportation or interactions that involved speaking English, and the assistance offered in these areas was viewed as highly satisfactory. Participants were least satisfied with the help they received for diabetes-related self-care, personal care, and financial assistance. Social support was not strongly related to diabetes self-management. Community health nurses must be aware that this population may have needs that are unsatisfactorily met. They should provide education and resources for support persons and carefully evaluate the support network, not only for availability, but also for satisfaction. Effort should also be directed toward developing alternative support for those without available family.