Stories for change: development of a diabetes digital storytelling intervention for refugees and immigrants to minnesota using qualitative methods

BMC Public Health. 2015 Dec 29;15:1311. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-2628-y.


Background: Immigrants and refugees are affected by diabetes-related health disparities, with higher rates of incident diabetes and sub-optimal diabetes outcomes. Digital storytelling interventions for chronic diseases, such as diabetes may be especially powerful among immigrants because often limited English proficiency minimizes access to and affects the applicability of the existing health education opportunities. Community-based participatory research (CBPR), whereby community members and academia partner in an equitable relationship through all phases of the research, is an intuitive approach to develop these interventions. The main objective of this study was to develop a diabetes digital storytelling intervention with and for immigrant and refugee populations.

Methods: We used a CBPR approach to develop a diabetes digital storytelling intervention with and for immigrant and refugee Somali and Latino communities. Building on an established CBPR partnership, we conducted focus groups among community members with type II diabetes for a dual purpose: 1) to inform the intervention as it related to four domains of diabetes self-management (medication management, glucose self-monitoring, physical activity, and nutrition); 2) to identify champion storytellers for the intervention development. Eight participants attended a facilitated workshop for the creation of the digital stories.

Results: Each of the eight storytellers, from the Somali and Latino communities with diabetes (four from each group), created a powerful and compelling story about their struggles and accomplishments related to the four domains of diabetes self-management.

Conclusions: This report is on a systematic, participatory process for the successful development of a diabetes storytelling intervention for Somali and Latino adults. Processes and products from this work may inform the work of other CBPR partnerships.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Community-Based Participatory Research / methods
  • Community-Institutional Relations
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / ethnology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota
  • Narration*
  • Refugees*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Self Care*
  • Universities