NEWS | May 28, 2019

Spanish language support group for Type 1 diabetic children created

Research demonstrates patient, family need for more education


English language support groups for children with Type 1 diabetes and their families can boost knowledge, help with stress, debunk myths, and improve their disease management like maintaining a steady blood sugar level. While these support groups are beneficial to many people, they sometimes isolate patients who don’t speak English.

UC Davis School of Medicine student Luis Fernandez leads the youth group UC Davis School of Medicine student Luis Fernandez leads the youth group

UC Davis Children’s Hospital nurse resident Diana Arellano decided to change that. While conducting research for an evidence-based project as part of her nursing program, she noticed a lack of resources for Spanish-speaking patients.

“I wanted my project to be beneficial to the pediatric endocrinology clinic,” Arellano said. “I attended an English language support group for pediatric Type 1 diabetic patients and saw first-hand how the group had a positive impact on families.”

During her investigation, Arellano learned that support groups for adult Mexican-American Type 2 diabetes patients greatly improved their understanding of the disease. This suggested that pediatric Spanish language diabetes patients and their families could benefit from something similar.

Arellano hosted the first Spanish language pediatric Type 1 diabetes support group in April. Twenty-two people, including patients at varying stages of diagnoses, their parents and siblings participated. UC Davis Health nurse Erin Conboy-Heiser and UC Davis School of Medicine student Luis Fernandez facilitated the youth breakout group while Arellano and UC Davis Health social worker Vince Fong facilitated the parent group.

Casamiro Reyes and his 15-year-old daughter, Leslie, drove two hours from Lake Tahoe to the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento to attend the support group. Leslie was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2011, so she and her father had helpful information to pass on.

“We shared our experience with parents whose child was just diagnosed with diabetes. Since Leslie has had the disease for seven years, we had a lot of knowledge,” said Reyes. “We learned from others, too.”

The group is now a regular resource offered quarterly to accommodate the need.

“One family told me that they left the meeting feeling less stressed and scared. They were able to ask questions and get advice from others to put them at ease,” said Arellano. “My goal is to build a support system for our Spanish speaking patients and families.”

Related links

Diabetes support group is only one speaking Spanish in Sacramento-area - ABC10

UC Davis Hospital organizes support group for patients with type 1 diabetes - Univision