Psychological Distress Increases Risk of Diabetes in Pre-Diabetics

Marianna Virtanen Finnish Institute of Occupational Health Helsinki, Interview with:
Marianna Virtanen PhD
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
Helsinki, Finland

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Virtanen: We examined whether psychological distress predicts incident type 2 diabetes and if the association differs between populations at higher or lower risk of type 2 diabetes. We used a clinical type 2 diabetes risk score to assess future diabetes risk and in addition, participants’ prediabetes status. We found that psychological distress did not predict future type 2 diabetes among participants who were normoglycemic and among those with prediabetes combined with a low diabetes risk score. However, psychological distress doubled the risk of type 2 diabetes among participants with prediabetes and a high diabetes risk score.

MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Virtanen: Not exactly. We already knew that there was not consistent evidence on stress or psychological distress predicting onset of type 2 diabetes. In this study we sought to find a subgroup where distress might have a particularly strong effect.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Virtanen: Psychological symptoms among patients who have prediabetes and many diabetes risk factors (such as overweight or obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension or familial diabetes) are at an even more increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes if they have psychological distress symptoms.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Virtanen: It would be important to study whether interventions aiming at reduce distress prevent development of type 2 diabetes among high-risk populations.


Psychological Distress and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in High-Risk and Low-Risk Populations: The Whitehall II Cohort Study

Marianna Virtanen, Jane E. Ferrie, Adam G. Tabak, Tasnime N. Akbaraly, Jussi Vahtera, Archana Singh-Manoux, and Mika Kivimäki

The Whitehall II Cohort Study Diabetes Care published ahead of print May 1, 2014, doi:10.2337/dc13-2725



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