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Alexithymia, defined as the inability of a person to identify, describe and express emotions, has been found to influence glycemic control in type 2 diabetes patients (D2). The characteristics and influencing factors of alexithymia and the association of this psychological construct with D2 has not yet been studied in Lebanon where 14.6% of adults are diagnosed with the disease. This study aims at evaluating the prevalence of alexithymia and its relationship with glycemic control among Lebanese adults with D2.
Alexithymia was assessed in 104 patients diagnosed with D2 and 100 healthy controls using the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). The impact of alexithymia on glycemic control was evaluated using HbA1c values, fasting blood glucose levels, number of severe hyperglycemic episodes and hospitalizations for hyperglycemia within the past months.
Alexithymia prevalence was significantly higher in D2 patients compared to controls (35.5% vs 15%). Patients with alexithymia showed higher levels of HbA1c and glucose in comparison to those without alexithymia. Consistently, significant positive correlations were found between the TAS-20 total and subscale scores and both HbA1c and glucose levels. Alexithymic patients had three times more severe hyperglycemic episodes and five times more hospitalizations for hyperglycemia compared to those without alexithymia. According to multivariate regression analysis, lifestyle factors alone were not found predictive of alexithymia in D2 patients.
Given the impact of alexithymia on D2 regulation, screening of alexithymia in case of D2 and appropriate psychological follow-up are important for a better prognosis, management and treatment of the disease.
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- Impact of alexithymia on glycemic control among Lebanese adults with type 2 diabetes
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