The goal of this study was to examine the nature of the personal projects that emerging adults with and without diabetes were pursuing and the implications of those projects for psychological well-being.
We asked emerging adults with and without type 1 diabetes to identify five personal projects, rate four dimensions of those projects (importance, typicality, stress, and progress), and complete several well-being measures (depressive symptoms, life purpose, life satisfaction, perceived stress, and resilience) when they were age 19. Those with diabetes also indicated the extent to which diabetes interfered with each of the projects. We followed participants for 1 year to determine the status of projects and reassess project dimensions and psychological well-being.
The kinds of projects identified by the two groups were similar. However, those with diabetes reported lower levels of progress on projects and completed fewer projects 1 year later compared with controls. Project progress, importance, and completion were linked to higher psychological well-being, whereas project stress was linked to lower psychological well-being. However, the most robust cross-sectional and longitudinal predictor of psychological well-being was project typicality (i.e., the extent to which projects were typical of participants). The pursuit of more typical projects was linked to higher psychological well-being. These findings were largely similar for emerging adults with and without diabetes. Diabetes interference with projects revealed some links to psychological well-being.
These results suggest that personal project engagement and completion is linked to the overall mental health of emerging adults with and without diabetes.