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Mayo Clinic: Digital Storytelling as a Health Intervention for Somali and Latino Adults with Type II Diabetes

Case Studies

Mayo Clinic: Digital Storytelling as a Health Intervention for Somali and Latino Adults with Type II Diabetes

Emily Paulos

Type II Diabetes is higher among immigrants and refugees in the United States than in the general population. Many immigrants and refugees are less likely to receive the healthcare information that they need, about the disease. Healthy behavior changes, such as increased physical activity, dietary modifications, and medication adherence, are often challenging for immigrants and refugees to implement, due to language barriers, cultural norms that discourage seeking health care, and socio-economic barriers to accessing services. Low health literacy disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minority groups.

As part of a larger participatory research project, the Mayo Clinic, in conjunction with the Rochester Healthy Community Partnership (RHCP), invited StoryCenter to engage Somali and Latino community members in a digital storytelling project to explore how culturally appropriate, personal stories about healthcare management and challenges can be effective as an intervention to promote health literacy and health behavior change among these two specific communities. After being identified through focus groups conducted by RHCP organizations, storytellers attended a half-day preparation session, followed by a four-day customized digital storytelling workshop. They shared stories as a group, recorded voiceover audio in Spanish and Somali, and helped gather visual materials; our staff completed final editing of stories, with approval of the storytellers. 

After the workshop, we compiled the stories on two DVDs, one featuring the Spanish-language pieces, the other the Somali pieces. The DVD includes a brief introduction to the project, created collaboratively with RHCP partners and storytellers, as well as a short conclusion that reinforces the health behavioral messages of physical activity, healthful eating, medication adherence, and glucose self-monitoring. In the next phase of the research, Mayo and RHCP will test the use of these materials in clinical settings, to assess the impact of the stories on diabetes healthcare management and outcome measures.