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Saturday, July 9 • 13:00 - 14:30
Session 4A: Comics as Human Medicine

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Stripped of their Powers? Examining the Potential Use of Comics as an Information Resource for Mental Health Training - Anthony Farthing & Ernesto Priego

This presentation will examine the interface between potentially useful instances of Graphic Medicine and academic audiences, with a focus on higher education in the domains of psychotherapy and social care. Original data regarding comics and their academic use was gathered from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, a specialist mental­health training and treatment centre in North London, United Kingdom. A survey and follow­up questionnaire were implemented during October and November 2014 to test attitudes toward comics and their utility with a sample of 108 students and staff. This was accompanied with semi­structured interviews with four clinicians at the Trust to give further insights into how comics are perceived in this unique academic setting. Additional original data was gathered from the comics industry through semi­structured interviews with 15 participants involved in creation and production to reveal attitudes to the origination and dissemination of mental health­related comics, as well as interactions with academia. Analysis of the combined data sets reveals that while limited use of comic strips is being made in the context of teaching and treatment at the Trust, challenges remain in getting this type of document accepted for use as a learning tool in the context of this academic population. 

Marie-Jean Jacob: Bringing comics into the hospital

During this presentation I will discuss how I used comics as a tool, taking advantage of their accessibility, and bringing them into the hospital setting. Working as an artist with Waterford Healing Arts Trust at the University Hospital Waterford, my aim was to engage the patient population in meaningful, creative experiences by creating, reading, and interacting with comics. This work focused on inviting patients to take on a new role within the hospital environment, empowering them in a space where they may feel like have very little say over their lives. By shifting attention to the comics, the patients’ focus is transferred away from their illness or disability, if even for a little while. I worked alongside occupational therapists and speech and language therapists, from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit (CAMHS), designing, co-ordinating and facilitating workshops that focused on particular patient and/or client needs. I also ran storytelling and comic creation workshops within the Department of Psychiatry and the neighbouring psychiatric hospital's ATU unit (St Otteran's Activation Therapy Unit). I found different ways in which to approach bringing comics into the hospital setting: The aforementioned workshops; Gift-bags (containing a handmade gift, information leaflets, selections of comic strips, activities, etc.), and life-size comic panels on the walls (with whiteboard speech bubbles inviting the staff visitors and patients to interact with them). Throughout this presentation I hope to share the challenges and rewards that come with bringing comics into the hospital; the stages of the creative process in the comics can be used in a positive way to brighten up daily life in the hospital.

Julie Anderson, Claire Watson and Lydia Wysocki: Making great comics and books with the Great North Children’s Hospital

We are creating the first in what we hope will become a suite of materials for use by young patients at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to help them understand their treatments. This has developed from an idea by Radiology staff to involve colleagues from across the Hospital and Newcastle University, and this new project builds on two previous projects at Newcastle University (Newcastle Science Comic, and the Body Matters website). Our first output is currently a work in progress. It focuses on supporting children’s understanding of what it is like to have an MRI scan. This sets it apart from existing materials aimed at parents/carers, in use at other hospitals. We are working with children and young people through the Hospital’s Young People’s Advisory Group as part of our process in creating these outputs, so will also share our reflections on the early stages of this involvement. In this session we will share our plans and works-in-progress for possible comics, children’s books, colouring books, apps, and digital comics, acknowledging fuzzy boundaries between these formats. We would particularly appreciate feedback from comics and medicine practitioners on the practicalities of creating print-digital hybrid projects for use in a hospital environment

Dr Theresa Maatman and Dr Kathlyn Fletcher: For Coping and Giggles: Pilot Course on Use of Cartoons to Reflect in Medical School

Reflection is used to combat higher rates of depression, anxiety and burnout in medical students. Comics, by using humor, can be an effective way to promote reflection. The Medical College of Wisconsin offers fourth-year students a Humanities elective with sessions on topics including reading, writing, and art. In one session, on cartooning, students brainstormed ideas and drew a comic strip about something they found stressful in medical school. Students then shared their cartoons with the class and discussed them in a student-led format. Ten students evaluated the session. Sixty percent of students stated they enjoyed having time to write, draw and create, or viewed the session as a break. Twenty percent of students reported viewing their experience in a different light; another 20% reported that it reinforced their current opinions. Thirty percent of students thought there was a benefit in learning that their peers had similar experiences. Additionally, students reported finding value in the process of putting their thoughts into words and the use of humor in coping. Eleven comics were analyzed for emotional content revealing 82% expressed a scared emotion; 64% mad (angry), and 45% sad. Common settings of the comics included rounds, surgery, and the classroom. Perceived barriers of the session were limited time, difficulty brainstorming, and concerns about drawing capabilities. Students met the objective of reflection as demonstrated by their comments and the comics themselves. Even if the students did not change their perceptions, there was an evaluation of their current opinions. The most important parts of this curriculum were providing time for students to create and a setting where they can share. Small class size promoted conversation among students. Overall, this is a useful tool that can facilitate reflection on medical school stress.


Julie Anderson

Julie Anderson is Project Manager – Child Health Research, at the Great North Children’s Hospital (GNCH). The GNCH has a holistic approach to child health research and is building a research community to explore innovative projects working with artists, clinicians, academics and... Read More →
avatar for Marie-Jeanne Jacob

Marie-Jeanne Jacob

Marie-Jeanne Jacob is an artist who runs comic creation workshops in various mental health settings, and recently completed a residency with Waterford Healing Arts Trust, engaging the patient population of University Hospital Waterford through comics. Currently she is preparing comic... Read More →

Theresa Maatman

Theresa Maatman, MD, is an Assistant Professor in General Internal Medicine at The Medical College of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US. Her interests include teaching medical students and patient care, including using comics with medical students. She continues to be an active... Read More →
avatar for Ernesto Priego

Ernesto Priego

City, University of London
I am a lecturer at City, University of London. I am the editor-in-chief and co-founder of The Comics Grid Journal of Comics Scholarship, an open access journal dedicated to comics studies published by the Open Library of Humanities.

Claire Watson

Claire Watson is a diagnostic radiographer based at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. In her current role she has experience of all imaging modalities, with a special interest in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Aside from work, she is a keen photographer with a varied portfo... Read More →

Lydia Wysocki

Lydia Wysocki is an educator, artist, editor, publisher, Editor-in-Chief of Newcastle Science Comic, and founder of Applied Comics Etc. All that wouldn’t fit on her business card, so it says Comics Boss. She’s also a part-time NEDTC/ESRC-funded PhD student in Education at Newcastle... Read More →

Saturday July 9, 2016 13:00 - 14:30 BST
Lecture Theater 1

Attendees (7)