Project Title: Utilizing Social Media to Help Reduce Disparities and Improve Quality of Type 2 Diabetes Care in Rural Areas of Missouri
Project Type: Program Plan
Studies conducted among rural populations in the United States have indicated difficulties in meeting national recommendations for diabetes care. There is a higher prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among all races and ethnicities in rural areas than in urban areas. Compared to urban residents, rural residents with diabetes are often at a disadvantage due to lower income, educational attainment, levels of medication compliance as well as a lack of health insurance. The complications associated with Type 2 diabetes, such as diabetes retinopathy, also have higher incidence and lower levels of reporting in rural areas of the U.S., when compared with urban areas. Studies show that many patients with diabetes use social networks to discuss health information online. The development of a care plan that incorporates social platforms for sharing personal clinical information, providing disease-specific guidance and receiving emotional support could significantly improve diabetes care.
What compelled you to choose this topic for your project?
I studied the use of social media to address diabetes care in rural Missouri because this topic is very close to me. My father, who lives in Missouri, has been diagnosed with diabetes and has to drive more than 30 minutes to see his physician. People with diabetes need extensive and continuous care, which is impossible in some rural areas. There are towns surrounding my city that don’t have any medical facilities. I wanted to find a way to help the people suffering from this serious and expensive disease. I chose social media as the way to address this issue because, in the MPH@GW program, I learned about the different modes of communication for health promotion programs. Social media is a powerful tool, and I believe that the health care field should use this technology to improve medical care.
What was your favorite aspect of the culminating experience (CE) project?
My favorite aspect of the CE project was the actual research. I got to use my qualitative and quantitative skills in a practical setting. My CE instructor was also very helpful in answering questions regarding the project.
How do you hope to apply the skills you learned during your project in your career?
I am now working on a project regarding diabetes in a new community. We are analyzing data from diabetes patients and finding correlations relevant to a specific population. I was only allowed to work on this project because of my CE experience, and I am very thankful that MPH@GW has provided me with the education I needed to pursue my dreams.
 Hale, N. L., Bennett, K. J., & Probst, J. C. (2010). Diabetes care and outcomes: Disparities across rural America. Journal of Community Health, 35(4), 365–374. doi:10.1007/s10900-010-9259-0
 Bray, P., Thompson, D., Wynn. J. D., Cummings, D., & Whetstone, L. (2005). Confronting disparities in diabetes care: The clinical effectiveness of redesigning care management for minority patients in rural primary care practices. Journal of Rural Health, 21(4), 317–321. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2005.tb00101.x
 Physician’s Weekly. (2013). Capitalizing on social media to enhance diabetes care. Retrieved from http://www.physiciansweekly.com/diabetes-social-media/