Dr. GonzalezDr. Jeffrey Gonzalez, associate professor at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was recently awarded a five-year R01 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institute of Health to conduct an ancillary trial on depression and treatment outcomes of diabetes. This is a sub-study of “Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes: A Comparative Effectiveness Study” (GRADE), which is coordinated by George Washington University.  Through the study of 2,500 participants with four different diabetes treatment combinations, prospective data will provide a unique opportunity to examine the relationships between emotional distress, diabetes treatment, and outcomes in an experimental design.

Described as first of its kind, this study involves a much larger sample than typical for this kind of research, examines changes over time, and because of the random assignments of individuals to different diabetes medication regimens, it allows researchers to control for the effects of medication in a very powerful way. Findings will inform practice decisions regarding screening and treatment for emotional distress as part of diabetes care.

Ultimately, the strength of the design will allow researchers to examine whether depression and emotional distress predict worsening control of diabetes over time and, conversely, whether certain diabetes treatment regimens contribute to increases in depression and emotional distress in patients with diabetes. Both of these hypotheses have been tested by numerous other studies but their results have been inconclusive due to methodological limitations.

“Being able to address those limitations in the context of a landmark trial like GRADE is a really exciting opportunity,” said Gonzalez. “We know that depression is more common among individuals receiving treatment for diabetes but we don’t know why. The results of this study will have real world implications beyond advancing science – doctors need to know whether individuals experiencing emotional distress and depression are less likely to benefit from treatment.  We hope to be able to provide data that can answer these important questions.”

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