• diabetes;
  • parents of adolescents;
  • social support

Aims and objectives.  The purpose of the research was to investigate the perspectives of parents of adolescents with type 1 diabetes about their needs for social support during their child’s adolescence related to diabetes management. The objective was to explore and describe these perspectives.

Background.  One of the most significant issues resulting in the need for social support among parents whose adolescent lives with type 1 diabetes is the parental stress inherent in supporting the adolescent’s increasing autonomy as a self-manager of diabetes, while at the same time protecting the child’s well-being.

Design.  The research approach was interpretive description.

Methods.  Data were collected in single in-person interviews with nine parents of adolescents or young adults with type 1 diabetes. The interviews focused on the parents’ needs for social support related to diabetes management during their child’s adolescence.

Conclusions.  The findings were that the parents’ needs for social support revolved around letting go of their role as primary decision maker in their child’s diabetes management; mediating the conflict they experienced between themselves and the adolescent and/or their spouse; and the inadequate information they received about the adolescent’s diabetes management. Online forms of social support were their preference.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Health care practitioners should be aware that parents of adolescents with diabetes may have needs for social support that are often overlooked when the adolescent and his or her diabetes is the only focus of health care interactions.