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I had the opportunity to interview Maebelle Matthew, a senior at UNC, who recently completed the Dance and Diabetes project and is now in the process of analyzing the results from the study.

Matthew participated in the Writing Diabetes study in 2014. After its completion in 2016, the results revealed that body image plays a large role in how empowered people with diabetes feel. With this knowledge, she began to develop the follow up study, Dance and Diabetes. Having a background in dance, Matthew looked at ways to understand how dance could relate to body image.

Matthew developed the project in Jordynn Jack’s ENGL 695 course during the Spring 2018 semester. Her peers Destiny Ho, now graduated, Shweta Bhatnagar, Akhila Boyina, and Pragnya Dontu joined her in performing the study. After applying for and receiving the Undergraduate Researching Consulting Team grant, Matthew and her team were able to begin the project they had conceived.

Recruitment flyer for the Dance and Diabetes research study

The project incorporated several styles of dances, including contemporary, Latin, Bollywood, and zumba. The goal of the project overall was to determine whether these different styles of dance impacted how empowered the patients felt about their bodies. After recruiting patients for the study, Matthew and her team held the dance workshops every week for a period of 8 weeks from February to April.

While the results of the study have not yet been fully analyzed, at the conclusion of the study, Matthew and her team interviewed the patients. Two patients reported having a lower A1C score. While this was not what the team was measuring, this was still a noted effect of the workshops. One patient struggled with mental health and depression, however, the workshops became a place for the patient to not only dance, but interact with other patients who were undergoing the same issues. The workshops became somewhat of a support group for the patients.

As I concluded the interview, I asked Matthew what she enjoyed most about the project. Matthew said, “I think what I liked most about the project was the fact that I got to be involved with the project from its conception until the very end. So doing the IRB, applying for funding, figuring out all the logistics, I don’t think thats something a lot of research opportunities give you outside of HHIVE.”

Following the Dance and Diabetes study, several students are now in the process of forming a club at UNC to continue the workshops due to the positive impact it had on the patients. A full analyzation should be available some time during January.


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