Drug Use, Suicide Found in Type 1 Diabetes Organ Donors

High rates of suicide and illicit substance abuse have been found among deceased individuals with type 1 diabetes who acted as organ donors for research purposes, reinforcing the need for psychosocial screening in the type 1 diabetes population.

The data, from the JDRF-sponsored Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD) program, were published online July 5, 2017 in Diabetes Care by pediatric endocrinology fellow Laura M Jacobsen, MD, of the University of Florida, Gainesville, and colleagues.

While acknowledging that organ donors may not reflect the general population with type 1 diabetes, Dr Jacobsen and colleagues say that the findings nevertheless highlight the need for addressing the emotional and psychological burdens associated with the condition.

“Greater attention needs to be paid to the behavioral aspects of diabetes. The odds of depression in type 1 diabetes are twice that of a control population,” principal investigator Desmond Schatz, MD, professor of pediatrics and medical director, diabetes center, at the College of Medicine,University of Florida, told Medscape Medical News.

“Depression may occur secondary to the hardships of managing diabetes. As such, this may lead to illicit drug use and even suicide,” added Dr Schatz.

The authors point to the inclusion in the American Diabetes Association 2017 guidelines of recommendations to screen for depression and diabetes-specific distress, and for referral to mental healthcare providers — preferably those with type 1 diabetes-specific expertise — when signs of “depression, difficulty coping, disordered eating, drug use, or other self-harm behaviors are identified.”

Database Includes Information on Cause of Death

The study data come from terminal hospitalization records for the first 100 organ donors with type 1 diabetes in the nPOD program, which collects, processes, and distributes pancreatic and other disease-relevant…

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