Emotions and Health Care Decision Making.

A long-standing goal of my research is to understand the role of emotion in how individuals and families make health care decisions. In my first study of adolescents with type 1 diabetes (Wiebe et al., 1994), I used experience sampling techniques to demonstrate that trait anxious adolescents over-interpreted the meaning of benign symptoms (i.e., inaccurately believing neutral sensations reflect blood glucose fluctuations). These inaccurate perceptions resulted in poorer blood glucose levels when symptom experiences were used to guide treatment decisions (i.e., when to take insulin or eat a snack). My research team has since published a series of studies demonstrating the importance of regulating negative emotions to support health care decisions in daily life. This research demonstrates that depressive symptoms are common reactions to the stress of managing T1D, negative emotions are associated with lower self-management behaviors, and that it is not only the emotions of the adolescent with diabetes, but also of the parent that affects self-management.