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The Healthy Living Magazine

People to Know 2018: Maureen Monaghan, PhD, CDE

By Jane Kadohiro, DrPh, APRN, CDE, FAADE ,

Maureen Monaghan, PhD, CDE
Photograph courtesy of Children's National Health System

Getting through the teen years is a challenge for anyone, but for kids with diabetes, that particular passage can be downright tumultuous. Maureen Monaghan, PhD, CDE, a psychologist and behavioral scientist for adolescents and young adults with type 1 diabetes, is helping to ease the transition to adulthood. Her research at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., is focused on helping people with diabetes segue from their pediatric care providers to adult endocrinologists.

In Maureen’s 12 years of working in diabetes care and research, she’s found management can fall by the wayside during this sensitive time. The shift in responsibility from the family to the teen can be difficult, and young adults may lose contact with their providers or may not be as engaged in their care. As a result, they tend to experience more complications than they did as children, such as severe lows and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

Earlier in my career, I volunteered on a National Diabetes Education Program committee that developed a toolkit for pediatricians to help teens and parents make the transition to adult care. Several years later, I spoke on this topic at the American Diabetes Association’s Scientific Sessions. At the time, the only research I could find came from Australia, so it’s really exciting to see the field evolve with the work of Maureen and others.

One aspect of Maureen’s research—funded by an American Diabetes Association Pathway Accelerator Award—has me particularly excited: She is evaluating a behavioral program designed to promote diabetes self-management skills and communication between young adults and their health care providers. One strategy is a session with a certified diabetes educator that bolsters problem-solving skills. The session might look at sample situations, such as interpreting blood glucose numbers in the midst of school finals, while drinking alcohol at a party, or on the morning of a varsity sporting event. “We’re trying to build real-life, practical, problem-solving experience with our patients,” says Maureen.

Jane Kadohiro, DrPh, APRN, CDE, FAADE,was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1955. When doctors told her she probably wouldn’t live past her 30s, she responded by getting six college degrees; becoming a public health nurse, diabetes advocate, and professor; and eventually accepting a job as the deputy director of health for the state of Hawaii. She is currently semiretired and splits her time between Hawaii and Nevada.

 

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