Background: Differences in functional limitations between adults with and without diabetes are more evident in women than they are in men. Purpose: This study aims to investigate if there are gender differences in biological, behavioral, and psychosocial variables, and how these gender-related variables explain the gender-functional limitations relationship in adults with type 2 diabetes. Methods: We drew data on 1,619 adults with type 2 diabetes from the Health and Retirement Study and its diabetes-specific mail survey. The fit of a series of mediation models to the data was assessed by structural equation modeling. Results: Although women had better diet and blood glucose self-monitoring behaviors than did men, they reported less favorable body mass index, glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) value, blood pressure, early complications, exercise behaviors, perceived control, self-efficacy, coping, depressive symptoms, and family support than did men. Psychosocial factors made an indirect contribution in the gender-functional limitations relationship by way of their strong association with biological and behavioral factors, two factors that directly and completely mediated the gender-functional limitations relationship. Conclusions: Interventions promoting psychosocial well-being and empowering perceived diabetes control, coping, and self-efficacy in women with type 2 diabetes may help improve biological and behavioral determinants, and further, their long-term functional health.
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