Learned helplessness in diabetic youths

Michael J. Kuttner, Alan M. Delamater, Julio V. Santiago

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Determined the relationships among the learned helplessness attributional style, depression, regimen adherence, and metabolic control in a sample of diabetic youth. Fifty children (20 male and 30 female) between the ages of 10 and 16 completed the Children's Attributional Style Questionnaire and the Children's Depression Inventory. Regimen adherence was assessed with three 24-hr recall interviews conducted separately with patients and their mothers over a 1-week period. Metabolic control was measured by glycosylat-ed hemoglobin Al (HbAI). Learned helplessness was significantly associated with depression (p < .001) and HbAI (p < .02), but was not associated with regimen adherence. Depression was unrelated to regimen adherence and metabolic control. The adherence measures together accounted for 24% of the variance of HbAI. Significant correlations were obtained between HbAl and the exercise (p < .05) and eating/testing frequency (p < .05) adherence factors, indicating that lower levels of adherence were associated with worse metabolic control. Age, pubertal status, sex, disease duration, and SES were unrelated to regimen adherence and metabolic control. These results support the notion that the learned helplessness attributional style for negative events is related to both depression and long-term metabolic control problems in diabetic youths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-594
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Learned helplessness
  • Metabolic control
  • Regimen adherence
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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