Qualitative observation instrument to measure the quality of parent-child interactions in young children with type 1 diabetes mellitus

Anke Nieuwesteeg, Esther Hartman*, Frans Pouwer, Wilco Emons, Henk-Jan Aanstoot, Edgar Van Mil, Hedwig Van Bakel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: In young children with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), parents have complete responsibility for the diabetes-management. In toddlers and (pre)schoolers, the tasks needed to achieve optimal blood glucose control may interfere with normal developmental processes and could negatively affect the quality of parent-child interaction. Several observational instruments are available to measure the quality of the parent-child interaction. However, no observational instrument for diabetes-specific situations is available. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to develop a qualitative observation instrument, to be able to assess parent-child interaction during diabetes-specific situations.

METHODS: First, in a pilot study (n = 15), the observation instrument was developed in four steps: (a) defining relevant diabetes-specific situations; (b) videotaping these situations; (c) describing all behaviors in a qualitative observation instrument; (d) evaluating usability and reliability. Next, we examined preliminary validity (total n = 77) by testing hypotheses about correlations between the observation instrument for diabetes-specific situations, a generic observation instrument and a behavioral questionnaire.

RESULTS: The observation instrument to assess parent-child interaction during diabetes-specific situations, which consists of ten domains: "emotional involvement", "limit setting", "respect for autonomy", "quality of instruction", "negative behavior", "avoidance", "cooperative behavior", "child's response to injection", "emphasis on diabetes", and "mealtime structure", was developed for use during a mealtime situation (including glucose monitoring and insulin administration).

CONCLUSIONS: The present study showed encouraging indications for the usability and inter-rater reliability (weighted kappa was 0.73) of the qualitative observation instrument. Furthermore, promising indications for the preliminary validity of the observation instrument for diabetes-specific situations were found (r ranged between |.24| and |.45| for significant correlations and between |.10| and |.23| for non-significant trends). This observation instrument could be used in future research to (a) test whether parent-child interactions are associated with outcomes (like HbA1c levels and psychosocial functioning), and (b) evaluate interventions, aimed at optimizing the quality of parent-child interactions in families with a young child with T1DM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145
JournalBmc Pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1/psychology
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents/administration & dosage
  • Insulin/administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Meals
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Pilot Projects

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