Parent mentor perspectives on providing social support to empower parents

Susan Sullivan-Bolyai, Mary M. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose To describe the experience of parent mentors providing a social support intervention to parents of children < 13 years old newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus. Methods Qualitative descriptive interviews were conducted with 6 parent mentors (all mothers) who provided social support to 34 mothers and 19 fathers of children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus over a 12-month period. The mentors were trained to provide informational, affirmational, and emotional social support through home visits, phone calls, and/or e-mail. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify themes guided by the Ireys social support framework. Findings The parent mentors described support activities that could be categorized into the 3 types of support defined in the Ireys framework. The parent mentors provided informational support, such as tips for travel, school, parties and family get-togethers, camp resources, and how to advocate for the child. Affirmational support was provided by sharing stories and validating parents' feelings and experiences. Emotional support was provided by "being there" for the parents. No instances were described where parent mentors were pushed to give advice on medical management issues but were more so used for advice on growth and development, sleep, and healthy eating suggestions. Parent mentors also reported being empowered by the role by helping others. Conclusion Careful selection of parent mentors is a strategy for providing social support to parents of children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus, especially in day-to-day management areas that the health care professionals have not experienced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-43
Number of pages9
JournalDiabetes Educator
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)


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