Newswise — DETROIT – A Wayne State University research team will embark on a five-year, multicenter trial focused on helping parents engage in effective parenting to assist their diabetic adolescents complete their daily care. The intervention will be delivered on a tablet computer during visits to the diabetes clinic for routine care. The study is aimed at African American youth diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, as these adolescents are at higher risk for poor diabetes management and metabolic control.

The $3.05 million grant, “Effectiveness trial of an E-health intervention to support diabetes care in minority youth,” funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, will focus on young adolescents, as this is an age where responsibility for completing diabetes care begins to transition from the parent to the child. According to Deborah Ellis, Ph.D., professor of family medicine and public health sciences in Wayne State’s School of Medicine, if parents do not continue to be highly involved in their child’s diabetes care during this time and the transition of responsibility to the child occurs too rapidly, adolescents are likely to neglect critical aspects of their care.

“Research has shown that maintaining high levels of parental involvement and supervision of daily diabetes care is a critical predictor of youth diabetes management,” said Ellis. “However, physicians do not always have time to discuss parenting behaviors during busy clinic visits.  A brief, computer-delivered intervention during clinic visits can provide this type of information, as well as help parents maintain their motivation to stay involved in their child’s care, even when adolescents seem to have the maturity to care for diabetes independently.”

Ellis’ research team recently conducted a pilot clinical trial to test a brief, three-session computer intervention aimed at increasing parental motivation for supervision and monitoring among caregivers of African American adolescents who are beginning to transition to independent self-care. The intervention was tailored for minority families based on feedback from African American caregivers of young adolescents with diabetes. Results from the study suggested that caregivers who received the intervention had significantly higher monitoring of their adolescent’s daily diabetes management.

“Adolescents whose caregivers received the intervention had significant improvements in metabolic control compared to controls,” said Ellis. “Through this newly funded multicenter, randomized effectiveness trial, we will now test the intervention with 212 African American adolescents with Type 1 diabetes and their primary caregivers recruited from pediatric endocrinology clinics across the United States, including three sites in Chicago.”

In addition to testing the effectiveness of the intervention to improve diabetes management and metabolic control in a larger sample, the study will investigate factors that promote or interfere with the intervention’s use in a variety of different clinics serving adolescents with diabetes.

“This intervention has the potential to improve health outcomes in a vulnerable population of youth,” said Ellis. “Because of the low cost, it has the potential to have wide reach to many youth and families through integration into routine medical appointments in diabetes clinics.”

The grant number for this National Institutes of Health award is DK110075.


About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit