I’m thrilled to have recently been awarded a small grant by the Wellcome Trust under their Medical Humanities programme. My project is looking at the impact of educational comics on feelings and attitudes towards health conditions so I’ll be interviewing people who either have a health condition themselves, or have a close family member with one, to try to find out how educational comics might provide support in dealing with the emotion aspects of illness, as well as being a source of information.
There are educational comics about a wide range of illnesses and they may have a number of purposes, including raising awareness; preparing patients for procedures; assisting with decision making; promoting self-management; or simply increasing understanding and acceptance of a condition. In a recent article, I argued that while it is important to evaluate the factual comprehension of health information gained by reading education comics, it is also essential to consider how reading a comic may impact on a patient’s (or relative’s) feelings and attitudes. So in this research, I plan to investigate how, and to what extent, educational comics might provide support in dealing with feelings and attitudes associated with health conditions, for example, fears and anxieties, social interactions and relationships. I’ll also attempt to identify any potential weaknesses comics may have in this respect and suggest how they might be better evaluated to take account of their potential social and psychological benefits, as well as how they convey factual information.
This is only a small scale project, but I’m hoping it can act as a pilot to test an approach which can be adapted to a wider audience, including adults with a wider range of health conditions and children. It’s great that before the project’s even started I’ll already had interest from a number of people including Medikidz (publishers of a wide range of health education comics for young people) and BoosterShot comics (creators of comics, animations etc).
I’m currently recruiting interviewees, so if you’re interested in taking part, please fill in your detail on this form.