Dr. Carol Dashiff is currently working on her 2 year Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21) from NIH-NINR, “Multifamily Group Autonomy Support Psychoeducation for Parents and Middle Adolescent with Type 1 Diabetes”, titled the SPA project; Supporting Parents and Adolescents.


The SPA project refines, pilots, and assesses the feasibility of a joint parent and adolescent (ages 15-17) psychoeducational multifamily group Autonomy Support Program to facilitate adolescent self-management of Type 1 diabetes and diabetes control in the transition from middle to late adolescence. The study has been divided into 2 phases with the first of the phases complete. Through the use of focus groups and one-on-one interviews the team was able to gather date from older teens (18-19), their parents, and healthcare professionals to assess the piloted intervention.


Dr. Dashiff’s program of research centers on the family as a context for promoting the development and health of children, adolescents, and adults, especially with respect to the development of autonomy, self-care, and health. 


Building on research of parenting and family influences on competence of young children with developmental disabilities and self-care abilities children with chronic conditions, Dr. Dashiff has examined family influences of adolescents with chronic illness, particularly Type 1 diabetes mellitus. Drawing from findings from her previous studies, Dr. Dashiff has data to support the need for the development of a psychoeducational intervention with both parents to foster mutual support and coordination of parenting, to help parents, especially mothers, manage anxiety about separation, and to educate parents in the recognition, practice and use of autonomy supportive communication approaches to foster adolescent cognitive autonomy development in relation to effective adolescent diabetes self-management.


Dr. Dashiff is collaborating with a multidisciplinary team to carry out this project; Dr. Andres Azuero, statistician from the UAB School of Nursing, Dr. Hussein Abdullatif and Dr. Joy Atchison, pediatric endocrinologists from Children’s Hospital of Alabama, and Dr. Julie Crumly a post doctoral fellow from the UAB School of Public Health.


Dr. Dashiff anticipates that results from theR21 study will provide data needed to plan a larger more definitive randomized trial on the effect of a parent-adolescent multifamily group psychoeducational intervention to promote adolescent autonomous motivation, cognitive autonomy, and competence for effective diabetes self-management and metabolic control.