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Friday, July 8 • 14:50 - 16:20
Session 2B: Innovations in care

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Michelle Hadjiconstantinou: Animation as a vehicle to enhance awareness of Type 2 diabetes awareness in healthcare professionals and patients.

Approximately 3.8 million people in the UK are currently living with diabetes. Ninety percent of individuals have Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and risk short- and long- term complications notably nephropathy, neuropathy and cardiovascular disease, costing the NHS annually over 10 billion pounds. These complications can be reduced with appropriate behavioural and lifestyle change, however this can be challenging to convey and may significantly compromise quality of life and wellbeing. Prevention of complications can be addressed via effective health messages (NICE, 2015). Cartoon animation has been utilised for other health messages and can be more effective than conventional health promotion, especially among minority populations. As part of a wider study of psychosocial factors, a Whiteboard animation video was created to enhance awareness of T2DM for individuals at risk of/with T2DM, and healthcare professionals. Whiteboard animation delivers a story with pictures drawn on a whiteboard, with accompanying narration. The animation sought particularly to translate complex information around T2DM into simple language with amusing visual adjuncts. The Whiteboard animation was presented to two groups for scrutiny: healthcare professionals (GPs and nurses) and lay people. Evaluation of content and process was assessed via recall and recognition indicating that key messages were effectively communicated. Qualitative data suggested that the apparent simplicity of image and message was well received and its potential for wider use and dissemination was advocated The feedback received for this whiteboard animation highlights the growing potential for cartoon communication in the service of healthcare education. Future examination, on larger populations to assess palatability and meaning, appears warranted as does assessment of impact over a longer timeframe. This type of information tool can be used in future research to enhance general population awareness and risk mitigation

Ciléin Kearns: "Levelling-up doctors with a cartoon video game."

A sneak peek at a video game under development that uses health cartoons to train doctors in the art of differential diagnosis. 

Cathy Leamy: Suzie & Ray: A Comic for Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Considering Insulin Therapy

As a patient information medium, comics provide unique benefits, including the use and casual repetition of visual metaphors, the employment of exaggerated fantasy scenes to express emotion and capture readers’ attention, and the modeling of interactions among patients and their caregivers, friends, and family. Suzie & Ray: Just Another Tool for the Toolbox is a comic created for Massachusetts General Hospital for people with Type 2 diabetes who are considering starting insulin therapy. Its primary goals are clearing up misconceptions and addressing emotional barriers; however, it also presents new “roles” for readers by breaking out of stereotypical provider/patient/family portrayals and demonstrating ways of seeking medical advice, methods of involving family and friends in care routines, and the acceptability of revealing vulnerability and emotion. This talk will discuss the creation of this comic, its approach to patient education, and distinctive aspects of the comics medium deliberately used in this project.

Juliet McMullin: Creating Comics for Palliative Care Symptom Management

The past decade has seen great strides in investigating the therapeutic effects of the literary, musical, theatrical, and visual arts. There is evidence these arts interventions have positive physiological effects on the body, and improved subjective wellbeing. However, despite the growing popularity of comics as a medium for sharing and performing medical experiences, little attention has been paid to the potential therapeutic effects of comics creation by patients. The medium of comics combines text and image in such a way that their creation requires conversations about the sharing and indeed the performance of illness narratives through storytelling and drawings that can, but do not have to, reflect the “real” world. This paper discusses preliminary findings from an ongoing study wherein palliative care patients create comics about their illness experience. During the comics workshops we engage in ethnographic interviews and observations to better understand the meaning-centered understandings and practices related to the relationship between the narrative and imagery in the patients’ comics and social interactions related to their own care. Imagery from the patients’ comics blur boundaries in a way not permitted by text alone and provide a mechanism to perform deep and even contradictory concerns, hopes, and states of relationships.

Megan Sinclair: Close to the Heart: An exploration of trauma and loss in comics and the creational process of making an autobiography to raise awareness for heart disease

This paper aims to examine traumics (comics that deal with themes of trauma) in relation to their representation of death and mourning. Karen Espiritu refers to the process of creating comics about trauma as ‘putting grief into boxes.’ The focus will first be to analyse the narrative strategies and aesthetics of these comics, then the psychological impact of using comics as a means of self-therapy and reflection for the creator. The paper will then move on to discuss the wider value of depicting personal trauma and how it can be used as an educational tool. The final section of the paper will deal specifically with my own experiences of trauma and my work-in-process, a project called ‘Close to the Heart’, which aims to raise awareness about heart disease through the creation of an autobiographical comic that deals with the sudden loss of my Father. I shall comment on traumics and graphic memoirs that have influenced my work, such as Ross Mackintosh’s Seeds, and will analyse the ways in which this has helped shape my comic and helped me contextualise and represent my experiences and emotions in the format of a comic. My aim is to educate readers on the causes, impact and statistics of heart disease, and if possible, use it as a means to donate to the British Heart Foundation through sales of the comic.

Laura E Smith and Aaron Hurwitz: Consequences of Serendipity

This is a tale about two individuals whose paths crossed, and how their respective endeavours are making a positive, notable impact on medical students by helping them process difficult situations and feelings that arise in their training which might otherwise go unaddressed. Aaron Hurwitz participated in a graphic medicine workshop led by Alison Bechdel in November of 2014 at the UVM College of Medicine and happened to sit at the front of the room next to Laura E Smith. Bonding over crayon drawings and some advice about linear perspective, the two shared their passion not only for educating, but also for helping others make meaningful connections through creative reflection. The clinical years of medical school are challenging, and Laura and Aaron each foster a culture of self-expression and imagination for their students. Despite utilizing varying approaches (graphic and/or narrative), they are both literally and metaphorically presenting medical students with a “blank canvas” upon which to give physical form to their stressors. Through the simple act of putting something down on paper students are able to articulate their thoughts in a way that makes them tangible, which can often lift a weight they may not even realize they were carrying. See the “TH-INK” comic (below) for an illustration of this principle. Laura’s workshops and Aaron’s class sessions provide a safe and respectful space, as well as opportunities for students to discuss their experiences with their peers, which can help prevent isolation. Laura and Aaron continue to find ways to encourage empathy and incorporate humanities into medical training, engaging students with unique, interactive, and fun lessons that have proven to be therapeutic and germane to their day-to-day experience as physicians-in-training.

Katelynn E Carver: To Make Visible What Might Never Have Been Seen: Building Bridges From Physical Injury to Psychological and Moral Injury within the Marvel Universe

The portrayal of the comic book superhero has recently proven ubiquitous in modern culture, dominating text, film, television, social media, smartphone applications, and beyond. The archetypal fulfillment of this role is one of superhuman strength, classically demonstrated through physical means: either against an externalized enemy that must be vanquished in battle, and/or against physical disability or ailment from which the character suffers. However, more recent comics and their filmic adaptations have taken on the antagonist within – psychological conditions and mental illness – and have created entrées into dialogue with what it means to be “super”, “heroic”, and perhaps most importantly, “human.” Counte


avatar for Caroline Erolin

Caroline Erolin

Lecturer, University of Dundee
Caroline Erolin obtained her MSc in Medical Art in 2002. She is the course coordinator for the MSc’s in Medical Art as well as being actively involved in consultation and research within the department. Her research interests focus on the future of medical art and artists, particularly... Read More →


Katelynn E Carver

Katelynn E Carver is a doctoral candidate and postgraduate researcher at the University of St Andrews, studying the intersection of process relational thought, theopoetics, post-secularism, literature, culture, and neuropsychology, focusing on narrativity and its significance in meaning... Read More →
avatar for Aaron Hurwitz

Aaron Hurwitz

Co-Director, Narrative Medicine Elective, UVM College of Medicine
Aaron Hurwitz hails from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, where he teaches narrative medicine and reflection. A former professional stage manager, Aaron’s work with medical students focuses on listening skills and burnout prevention, and includes collaborations with... Read More →
avatar for Ciléin Kearns

Ciléin Kearns

Ciléin is a doctor and medical artist who crafts medical/surgical illustration, videogames and cartoons that explain & entertain, drawing from a background in medicine/surgery, and the entertainment media industry. When there’s a sec to spare he writes and illustrates Artibiotics... Read More →
avatar for Cathy Leamy

Cathy Leamy

Cathy Leamy is a Boston-based cartoonist and medical editor/writer who specializes in healthcare comics, especially around primary care and preventive medicine. She's also @metrokitty on Twitter!See her and her graphic medicine pals on the SDCC "Comics and Health: Saving Lives and Preventing Disease" panel on Saturday 10:30AM in Room 26AB... Read More →
avatar for Laura E. Smith

Laura E. Smith

Laura E. Smith is a biomedical visual communicator by training and currently works as a medical student coordinator for Danbury Hospital in western Connecticut. Passionate about helping others, especially her students, Laura straddles the line of medical education and creative expression... Read More →

Friday July 8, 2016 14:50 - 16:20 BST
Lecture Theater 2

Attendees (6)