Joanna Leah Sullivan, Psy.D., is a 2023 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Monique Bowen, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Nancy Ruddy, PhD, Committee Member
  • Hannah Steinitz, PhD, Committee Member


diabetes distress, COVID-19, U.S. adults, systematic review

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Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a common metabolic disease that continues to grow in prevalence, affecting around 11% of the U.S. population in 2019. Although DM has a clear medical cause, a growing body of research points to social determinants of health (SDOH) and psychosocial factors as important mediators of prevalence and severity of DM. Diabetes distress, a mental health phenomenon arising out of the challenges of living with a stigmatized and demanding chronic disease, is one such factor. Given the heightened effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on psychosocial stressors and vulnerability to mental health disorders, it is important to understand the impact of the pandemic on prevalence and severity of diabetes distress. This systematic review examines the experience of diabetes distress in U.S. adults during the COVID-19 pandemic with a narrowed focus on both systemic and psychosocial factors, as well as consideration of obstacles for future research and treatment directions with this population. A search of four databases resulted in 875 titles and abstracts that were screened against the inclusion and exclusion criteria that are standard in this type of analysis. Ultimately, four studies met criteria and were used in this review. It is possible that the overall, fair quality of the evidence along with a lack of consistent outcome reporting is reflected in the results, which indicated no obvious trends emerged. There is an urgent need for additional research in this area, particularly focused on improving assessment of diabetes distress and towards addressing psychosocial factors in treatment of DM.


Joanna Leah Sullivan

ORCID Scholar ID# 0009-0001-9061-1686