Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 50, Issue 6, pp 836–843 | Cite as

Parental History of Diabetes, Positive Affect, and Diabetes Risk in Adults: Findings from MIDUS

  • Vera K. Tsenkova
  • Arun S. Karlamangla
  • Carol D. Ryff
Original Article



Family history of diabetes is one of the major risk factors for diabetes, but significant variability in this association remains unexplained, suggesting the presence of important effect modifiers.


To our knowledge, no previous work has examined whether psychological factors moderate the degree to which family history of diabetes increases diabetes risk.


We investigated the relationships among parental history of diabetes, affective states (positive affect, negative affect, and depressed affect), and diabetes in 978 adults from the MIDUS 2 national sample.


As expected, parental history of diabetes was associated with an almost threefold increase in diabetes risk. We found a significant interaction between positive affect and parental history of diabetes on diabetes (p = .009): higher positive affect was associated with a statistically significant lower relative risk for diabetes in participants who reported having a parental history of diabetes (RR = .66 per unit increase in positive affect; 95 % CI = .47; .93), but it did not influence diabetes risk for participants who reported no parental history of diabetes (p = .34). This pattern persisted after adjusting for an extensive set of health and sociodemographic covariates and was independent of negative and depressed affect.


These results suggest that psychological well-being may protect individuals at increased risk from developing diabetes. Understanding such interactions between non-modifiable risk factors and modifiable psychological resources is important for delineating biopsychosocial pathways to diabetes and informing theory-based, patient-centered interventions to prevent the development of diabetes.


Diabetes Positive affect Family history of diabetes 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vera K. Tsenkova
    • 1
  • Arun S. Karlamangla
    • 2
  • Carol D. Ryff
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Institute on AgingMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Division of GeriatricsUCLALos AngelesUSA

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