Take 2 – In Observance of Diabetes Awareness Month (November)
Who is Talking About Diabetes?
It is common to open the newspaper and read articles about HIV/AIDS, cancer, or recent health scares/outbreaks. More often than not there is little mention about diabetes. Outside of diabetes communities there is little discussion about the disease. Diabetes which is the 7th leading cause of deaths in the U.S. is often overlooked as a major cause of death.
In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, had diabetes. Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association estimated that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion. Of the $245 billion, $176 billion for direct medical costs, and $69 billion in reduced productivity. Now compare and contrast diabetes’ direct health cost of $176 billion dollars in 2012 with that of cancer’s direct health cost of $88.7 billion dollars in 2011. Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in the U.S.. The difference in expense is dramatic enough to warrant more awareness of diabetes. Who is talking about diabetes? Diabetes advocacy organizations.
How do diabetes advocacy groups facilitate discussion?
Diabetes Awareness and Social Media
In addition to traditional forms of advertisements, diabetes advocacy groups have taken their case to social media. Many organizations are using social media as a platform where they can bring about diabetes awareness, support and education.
- The American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. website, YouTube, Twitter (English, Spanish), Facebook.
- Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (DSMA) is involved with and promotes social media in all its forms to empower people affected by diabetes and to connect them with each other to foster support and education. Twitter, Facebook
- dLife claims to be #1 diabetes destination with tips, videos, recipes, expert answers, and the largest online community of people trying to live their best diabetes life. website, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook.
- TuDiabetes is a community of people touched by diabetes. It is a program of the Diabetes Hands Foundation which is a 501c3 nonprofit that connects, empowers, mobilizes the diabetes community. website, YouTube, Twitter (English, Spanish), Facebook.
My research on this topic showed that most organizations are making use of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs while others like DSMA Live are making use of podcast feeds. They are using the above social media platforms to spread word of the Diabetes Awareness Month as well as the Stop Diabetes campaign. I noticed that of the organization/foundations I reviewed, Twitter was the most commonly used social media platform i.e. it had the most updated and new content. I believe this is so because 1) Twitter is a great networking tool, 2) it is a fast way to get the message out and 3) most importantly it facilitates engagement among users. Data from the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014 (released June 10, 2014) showed that non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics had higher rates of diagnosed diabetes than Asians and non-Hispanic whites. Only the American Diabetes Association and TuDiabetes had dedicated hashtags in Spanish. Based on the aforementioned statistics I expected to find more organizations using social media to better engage ethnic populations most affected by diabetes. This to me is an area for improvement.