Sunday, 4 March 2007

Type 2 Diabetes

The increase in the incidence of diabetes has been described as an epidemic. In 2004, 5% of Americans reported themselves as diabetic.

The vast majority of these will have Type 2 diabetes. Unlike in Type 1 diabetes where insulin producing cells are destroyed by the body's own immune system, in Type 2 there is insulin available. It's just that it can't do its job properly of storing glucose in fat cells, leaving potentially dangerously high levels of glucose in the blood.

Israeli scientists prospectively studying subjects who suffered from 'burnout', found a 1.84-fold increased risk of type 2 diabetes in apparently healthy individuals, after controlling for the usual confounding variables. When they also controlled for blood pressure in a subsample, they found the risk factor to be greater than 4.

As ever, it's the personal part of the assessment that causes the problem for the scientist. How do you convince the scientific community that you've objectively measured psychological variables? With a measure, of course.
Burnout was assessed by the Shirom-Melamed Burnout Measure with its three subscales: emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue, and cognitive weariness.
Someone could do us a great service by conducting a survey of the psychological measures out there. How long do they last in use? Do psychologists other than the originators use them?

Again, I'm left wanting to know more about those poor souls who suffered burnout. A similar study carried out on British civil servants found an inverse correlation between rank and diabetes incidence whch could not be wholly explained by health behaviours and other risk factors. Many other illnesses followed this pattern. The lower your rank, the more likely you will die early from a host of conditions.

Something I suspect may be key to this phenomenon is what is called the effort-reward imbalance. (Take a look at how this is measured.) I'd like to hear subjects describe in their own language what they think about their jobs and careers.

1 comment:

Tony Woolfson said...

Great to read this. I am a UK specialist physician, and I really agree with you. You might be interested to read my own blog at

Hope to see you there.

Tony Woolfson