Strong longitudinal evidence exists that psychological distress is associated with a high morbidity and mortality risk in type 2 diabetes. Little is known about the biological and behavioral mechanisms that may explain this association. Moreover, the role of personality traits in these associations is still unclear. In this paper, we first describe the design of the psychological part of The Maastricht Study that aims to elucidate these mechanisms. Next, we present exploratory results on the prevalence of depression, anxiety and personality traits in type 2 diabetes. Finally, we briefly discuss the importance of these findings for clinical research and practice.
We measured psychological distress and depression using the MINI diagnostic interview, the PHQ-9 and GAD-7 questionnaires in the first 864 participants of The Maastricht Study, a large, population-based cohort study. Personality traits were measured by the DS14 and Big Five personality questionnaires. Type 2 diabetes was assessed by an oral glucose tolerance test. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the associations of depression, anxiety and personality with type 2 diabetes, adjusted for age, sex and education level.
Individuals with type 2 diabetes had higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms, odds ratios (95 % CI) were 3.15 (1.49; 6.67), 1.73 (0.83-3.60), 1.50 (0.72-3.12), for PHQ-9 ≥ 10, current depressive disorder and GAD-7 ≥ 10, respectively. Type D personality, social inhibition and negative affectivity were more prevalent in type 2 diabetes, odds ratios were 1.95 (1.23-3.10), 1.35 (0.93-1.94) and 1.70 (1.14-2.51), respectively. Individuals with type 2 diabetes were less extraverted, less conscientious, less agreeable and less emotionally stable, and similar in openness to individuals without type 2 diabetes, although effect sizes were small.
Individuals with type 2 diabetes experience more psychological distress and have different personality traits compared to individuals without type 2 diabetes. Future longitudinal analyses within The Maastricht Study will increase our understanding of biological and behavioral mechanisms that link psychological distress to morbidity and mortality in type 2 diabetes.