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The impact of medication unaffordability and community support on complex trauma, posttraumatic growth, and meaning in life in adults with type 1 diabetes


The current study sought to examine the extent to which type 1 diabetes is experienced as a complex trauma by adults living with the invisible illness and whether medication unaffordability affects an individual’s experience. The study also assessed how connecting with others who share the same illness impacts the development of post-traumatic growth and meaning in life, and whether medication unaffordability could influence the development of both. Adults with type 1 diabetes responded to a series of sociodemographic questions and questions about their experiences with the illness, along with the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Checklist for the DSM-5,1 the Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory,2 and the Meaning in Life Questionnaire.3 About one-third of individuals with type 1 diabetes experience the autoimmune condition as traumatic. There was a significant negative correlation between PTSD, and socioeconomic status and medication unaffordability. Length of involvement in the type 1 diabetes community impacted their presence of meaning in life, but had no meaningful effect on post-traumatic growth. Findings revealed interesting relationships between post-traumatic growth and meaning in life, and annual household income, level of education, insulin rationing, and economic sacrifices, respectively. Clinical and social justice implications, limitations, and future research directions are discussed.


type 1 diabetes, complex trauma, socioeconomic status and diabetes medication unaffordability, T1D community, post-traumatic growth, meaning in life