News Release

REF NO.: 3

SUBJECT: Entertainment is the best medicine

DATE: September 13, 2011

           Some Memorial University researchers are hoping they can teach people with diabetes how to take better care of themselves, by entertaining them. Dr. Wendy Young is teaming up with the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) and a local celebrity on a research project involving entertainment education for adults with type two diabetes and uncontrolled high blood pressure.
            “In order for a patient with high blood pressure to improve their health, they need good self-management education, a good patient provider partnership, and they often need to make changes in their lifestyle. However,” Dr. Young added, “this ideal situation is rarely achieved, which means we need to think about alternative ways to educate them.”
            The team, which is working with local entertainer Sheila Williams, is planning a performance for Oct. 19 that involves humour, music and education, “complete with a story, conflict-resolution and hopefully a happy ending,” added Ms. Williams.
            “Much of my entertainment is educational and based on truth and research. This entertainment will be a little different in that the approach is to first educate and then entertain, whereas usually it is the other way around.” 
            Ms. Williams got involved with this project after being approached by a friend because of her role as a music therapist and comedian. “I think it's great to bring awareness to this topic in a way that hasn't been considered before and perhaps this project will open doors to other avenues of education/entertainment,” she noted.
            The team is recruiting several people from the community who have type two diabetes and uncontrolled high blood pressure, and are over the age of 45. School of Nursing students will take blood pressure measurements in the couple weeks before the performance and then again three months after the performance with the hopes that they’ll see an improvement.
            According to the CDA, 47,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have diabetes and with that comes increased healthcare costs, especially if there are complications. The CDA feels many people living with diabetes work hard to self-manage their diabetes. This means they monitor their own blood glucose levels, nutrition, weight, physical activity, medications, etc. However, according to a study done just last year which was published in the journal Canadian Family Physician, 80 per cent of those diagnosed fail to meet, or even know, their blood pressure target.
            Armed with a Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research grant of $10,000, Dr. Young’s team consists of April Manuel, and George Klima, from the School of Nursing as well as Dr. Jane Gosine (School of Music), Drs. Veeresh Gadag and Jared Clarke (Division of Community Health and Humanities), Don McKay (Faculty of Medicine) and partners at the Canadian Diabetes Association.

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