The biopsychosocial milieu of type 2 diabetes: An exploratory study of the impact of social relationships on a chronic inflammatory disease

Michael M. Olson, Dorothy B. Trevino, Jamal Islam, Larry Denner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between psychosocial variables, biomarker hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C), and immune modulatory cytokine mediators among diabetic patients in marital or committed long-term relationships. Method: This is a cross-sectional study of adult patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) presenting at a university-based ambulatory medical clinic. Social/interpersonal constructs were assessed using measures of dyadic adjustment, interpersonal sensitivity and social functioning, and expressed emotion. HbA1c and cytokines were measured from blood samples using standard laboratory tests. Associations of relational systems constructs with biomarkers were assessed using bivariate tests. Results: Dyadic adjustment was significantly associated with cytokine IL-8. Interpersonal relationship functioning was significantly associated with biomarker HbA1c, and cytokines TNF-α, and IL-1ra. Social functioning was significantly correlated with cytokines IL-17, IL-1ra, IL-2r, IL-6, and eotaxin. Depression was significantly correlated with HbA1C. Conclusions: Although preliminary in nature, findings revealed significant relationships between molecular mediators of the inflammatory and immune systems and variables measuring the relational context patients with T2DM. The initial findings suggest a next step in understanding and exploring the complex but important biopsychosocial pathways in Type 2 DM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-305
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010



  • chronic disease
  • cytokines
  • diabetes mellitus Type 2/psychology
  • immunology
  • interpersonal relations
  • marriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this