DCHI Seminar: Lessons Learned in Collecting Diabetes Illness Narratives for use in a Social Media Marketing an Entertainment Education Awareness Campaign in a High Prevalence Community

September 23, 2020 - 4:00pm

Speaker: Nancy Winterbauer, PhD, MS

Collaborators:  Victoria Edwards, BA, Mary Tucker-McLaughlin, PhD, Ann Rafferty, Ph.D., Erika Johnson, PhD, MS and Ronny Bell, PhD, MS, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Presented from ECU

Broadcast Link: Seminar

There is an urgent need to increase awareness regarding Type II diabetes (T2DM), a common, costly condition and a significant source of morbidity and mortality. Prediabetes, a potential precursor to T2DM, is also common.  Many people with T2DM can self-manage their disease and many with prediabetes can avoid the disease altogether, with appropriate lifestyle changes. However, more than 25% of people with T2DM are unaware of their condition, as are the large majority of people with prediabetes. Race and ethnicity are also factors: African Americans, and other racial and ethnic minority groups are at higher risk for T2DM and its complications compared to non-Hispanic whites, placing them at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and amputations.

The West Greenville Health Council (WGHC), a community-academic partnership, developed a social media marketing intervention, rooted in entertainment education, to raise diabetes awareness in a predominantly African American, economically depressed and socially disenfranchised community in Eastern North Carolina. Diabetes-related mortality in West Greenville is twice that of non-Hispanic whites in both the county and the state.

In Phase I of the, “Tell a Story, Save a Life” intervention, we collected personal diabetes-illness narratives from community members (n=27) and selected “critical” diabetes stories (n=10) through our partnership. These were subsequently critiqued, re-recorded as necessary, and disseminated in Phase II, in which community members were directed to the WGHC website where they could listen to the stories and vote for their favorite. The winning stories received cash prizes and story viewers were entered into a lottery to win one of 10 $25.00 gift cards after completing a short survey. Lessons learned include those relevant to data collection and story preparation (Phase I) and dissemination (Phase II).


Nancy Winterbauer, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health and is affiliated with the Center for Health Disparities at East Carolina University. She has training in medical anthropology and epidemiology, with interests in diabetes, health communication, community-based participatory research (CBPR) and community engagement. She has worked with a number of community-academic partnerships, including the West Greenville Health Council, both the North Carolina and Florida Public Health Practice-Based Research Networks, and most recently the PCORI-funded participatory research group, EC Partners, which aims to partner patients, caregivers, clinicians, and researchers in the reduction of racial disparities in health, with a current focus on diabetes.