Sex-related differences in self-care behaviors of adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus

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To describe sex-related differences in self-care; to identify determinants of self-care according to sex, and to investigate how sex interacts with the effect of clinical and socio-demographic variables on self-care in adults with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM).


Cross-sectional multicentre study with a consecutive sampling recruitment strategy, enrolling 540 adults with T2DM at six outpatient diabetes services. Clinical and socio-demographic variables were collected by medical records. Self-care maintenance, monitoring, management, and confidence were measured by the self-care of diabetes inventory.


Females reported higher disease prevention behaviors (P < 0.001), health-promoting behaviors (P < 0.001), body listening (P < 0.001), and symptom recognition (P = 0.010), but lower health-promoting exercise behaviors (P < 0.001). Determinants of self-care were different in male and female patients, where the role of task-specific self-care confidence predicted self-care monitoring (RR = 0.98; P < 0.001) and management (RR = 0.99; P < 0.001) among males, while persistence self-care confidence predicted self-care maintenance (RR = 0.97; P = 0.016) and management (RR = 0.99; P = 0.009) among females.


Males and females differently perform self-care. Self-care confidence plays a different role predicting self-care behaviors in males and females. Future research should longitudinally describe self-care and its determinants in males and females with T2DM. Sex-specific self-care confidence interventions should be developed to improve self-care in male and female patients with T2DM.

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Correspondence to Michela Luciani.

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Caruso, R., Rebora, P., Luciani, M. et al. Sex-related differences in self-care behaviors of adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Endocrine (2020) doi:10.1007/s12020-020-02189-5

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  • Behavior
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Sex characteristics
  • Self-care
  • Self-management
  • Self-efficacy