Topics: Immersive Learning, College of Communication Information and Media, College of Fine Arts, College of Applied Sciences and Technology, Emerging Media

October 16, 2007

Making a highly complex disease such as diabetes easier for people to understand is the goal of a series of videos being produced by Ball State and Ball Memorial Hospital (BMH) Family Medicine Residency.

The university's faculty and residency employees are developing eight five- to 10-minute interactive video modules people may view while in the waiting rooms at BMH Family Medicine Clinic, located in the Ball Medical Education Building, 221 N. Celia Ave.

The videos provide basic information, allowing patients to make better decisions about treatment, said Ball State's Dave Marini, a physiology and health science professor at Ball State who is the project coordinator.

"In our studies of patients receiving information from medical personnel, we found that some did not completely grasp what the doctors or nurses were saying," he said. "That is why the modules will allow the patient to go through the segments at their own pace."

Diabetes was selected for the project because the Family Medicine Clinic sees about 500 patients annually who have been diagnosed with the disease.

In Delaware County, the number of people with diabetes grew by 25 percent from 1996 to 2006, and the death rate is significantly higher than state and national levels over the same time period.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the disease occurs when the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that converts sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and risk factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. Complications from the disease include blindness and loss of limbs.

There are about 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7 percent of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, nearly a third are unaware that they have the disease.

 "We have 24 exam rooms here, and we see the opportunity for our patients to learn about diabetes," said Jenni Flanagan, a health educator with the BMH Family Medicine Clinic. "This will allow them to take an active role in working with their physicians on tackling the disease."

Ball State personnel working on the project include Laura O'Hara, a communication studies professor who wrote the scripts; Rob Fultz, a Teleplex producer/director who produced the project; Carrie Shue, a communication studies professor who assisted with research and design; and Jim McKenzie, a physiology and health science professor who serves as a liaison between the university and the Family Medicine Clinic.

Dwandra Lampkin, a professor in the theater and dance department, was called upon to serve as the "face" of the modules, providing viewers with easy-to-understand information.

"I knew being a part of this project would be a wonderful opportunity," Lampkin said. "Having family members who have been recently diagnosed with diabetes, I've seen the challenges that they've had to face. 

"I've had the opportunity to play many roles in my career on stage, television and film, but it is opportunities such as the diabetes videos that are the rewarding," she said. "I think these series of modules do a wonderful job at showing not only the challenges, but the triumphs of fighting and maintaining the disease as well, so I'm thrilled to be the 'face' attached to it."

The project is funded by several internal Ball State grants, including an allocation from the Digital Exchange initiative — a program that explores how digital technology can innovatively and continuously promote the exchange of information in both educational and commercial environments. The Digital Exchange is being funded by a recently awarded $20 million, four-year grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.