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New 3-Year SNF Project on Chronic Disease Management in Couples

We are pleased to announce that today we start together with health psychologist Prof. Dr. Urte Scholz from the University of Zurich our new SNF project Measuring the Impact of Social Support and Common Dyadic Coping on Couple’s Dyadic Management of Type II Diabetes by a Novel Ambulatory Assessment Application for the Open Source Behavioral Intervention Platform MobileCoach.

Diabetes mellitus Type II is a common chronic disease. To manage blood glucose levels patients need to follow medical recommendations for healthy eating, physical activity, and medication adherence in their everyday life. Illness management is mainly shared with partners or spouses and may involve social support and common dyadic coping (CDC). Received social support and common dyadic coping have been identified as having implications for people’s health behavior and well-being. Visible received support, however, may also be negatively related to people’s well-being. Thus, the concept of invisible social support was introduced recently: that is, support provided that occurs outside of the awareness of the recipient or that is not encoded as support. So far, however, it is unknown which of these concepts (visible, invisible support, CDC) displays the most beneficial associations with health behavior and well-being when considered together in the context of illness management in couples. Furthermore, measurement of support and CDC in people’s everyday lives is usually by self-report only. Thus, more objective operationalizations of these constructs might solve common problems connected to self-report.

The goals of this project are therefore to systematically investigate the unique contributions of visible and invisible social support and CDC on health behaviors involved in diabetes management (e.g., physical activity, eating, medication adherence) and well-being of diabetes Type II patients and their partners; and to develop an ambulatory assessment application for smartphones for the open source behavioral intervention platform MobileCoach (www.mobile-coach.eu) that allows (a) to record speech and recognize the affect of speech based on prosodic, spectral and sentiment analyses, (b) to objectively sense the degree of physical activity by smartphone sensors and (c) to collect self-report data in situ in order to better understand the predictors (visible and invisible social support and common dyadic coping).