Duke Staff Dance to Raise Awareness of Diabetes


Faculty and staff from Duke Endocrinology and Duke’s office in Kannapolis are kicking up their heels on the dance floor to raise awareness of diabetes and diabetes research.

The #DiabetesDanceDare is a social media challenge created by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for National Diabetes Awareness Month in November, but the “dare” will continue well into 2017. Organizations, advocacy group and individuals across the country are posting videos of themselves dancing for 23 seconds to represent the rate of diabetes diagnoses in the U.S. — a new diagnosis every 23 seconds.

Susan Spratt, MD, Associate Professor in the Duke Department of Endocrinology, said, “We got involved in the challenge – quite literally – on a dare from UNC.”

Faculty and staff of UNC Endocrinology and the UNC dance team publicly dared Duke to participate in November. In a video uploaded to YouTube, John Buse (MD, PhD, Chief of the UNC Division of Endocrinology, Director of the UNC Diabetes Care Center) called out Duke, East Carolina University, and Wake Forest Baptist as challengers.

Spratt said that the decision to join was an easy one: “As Dr. D’Alessio says in the video, Duke doesn’t take a challenge from UNC sitting down, so we got to work on our video quickly.”

Duke Endocrinology thought carefully about choosing the song “Sugar” by Karmin. The team loved the way the lyrics reflect how patients with diabetes must regularly monitor their blood sugar levels. Aptly, the song’s chorus repeats, “I can’t think about anybody but you, sugar.”

One of the nurses, Anthony Jones, compared having diabetes to doing a dance with your blood sugar. Like dance moves, it can be low, it can be high, and it can move quickly.

Spratt was delighted that the dare involved dance since exercise is both a treatment and a preventative measure for the disease. She stressed the importance of finding an exercise like dancing that people enjoy. “Lifestyle changes may not sound like medicine, but they’re so important for combating this disease,” she said.

Staff at the Duke-Kannapolis and MURDOCK Study office jumped at the chance to participate, in part because the team is collaborating with the Duke School of Nursing on the Diabetes Learning In Virtual Environments (LIVE) study, which aims to help researchers understand how people with type 2 diabetes can better manage the disease using online tools.

“The dance dare was perfect for our team because it combines the community engagement and clinical research components of the Duke-Kannapolis office,” said Emily Ford, communications specialist. “It raises awareness of a serious, prevalent condition in a fun way. We love to dance and to engage our community, so it was just right for us.”

The Duke-Kannapolis team chose Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” for their video.

Perla Nunes, who leads community engagement and outreach for Duke-Kannapolis and the MURDOCK Study, said, “We have a lot of dancers and cheerleaders on our team, so we had fun pulling this together, and the video has been well received by our community in Cabarrus County.”

Viewers on the MURDOCK Study’s Facebook page have expressed appreciation to the team for taking the dance dare and showing people in a fun way that they aren’t alone with what can be a stressful diagnosis. To continue raising awareness of diabetes and diabetes research, the Duke-Kannapolis team challenged two community partners also located on the North Carolina Research Campus to take the #DiabetesDanceDare.