Humor can heal and laughter can sometimes be the best medicine. Cartoons can convey a message and leave a lasting impression besides making one smile! A new study from the University of Southampton has shown that cartoons drawn with inputs from patients with chronic illnesses can help similar patients cope better with their long term medical conditions.
say that cartoons are already being used to make people aware of various
communicable and non-communicable diseases
the content is almost always sourced from health professionals rather than
directly from the patient.
scientists clubbed patients' feedback and clinical evidence to make a series of
cartoons, which demonstrated common experiences, problems and anxieties. They
incorporated the cartoons into a self-management guidebook for
patients with chronic kidney
(CKD). Selected CKD patients were asked to give feedback on
how such a guidebook made them feel.
toward the cartoons ranged from amusement and enlightenment
and to outright hostility. But overall, patients found these cartoons useful
and said it gave them insight on their respective illnesses.
Kennedy, associate professor at the university and leader of the study, said
that health professionals could use cartoons to help their patients engage more
in the management of their own conditions. "Our study has shown that
cartoons could provide clarity to patients and be a way to engage with them. It
could also be a potential approach to support self-management. Cartoons can be
challenging and the difficult emotional responses some pictures evoke could be
used to help people adjust to their situation," explains Dr. Kennedy.
said that cartoons could also be used to dispel misconceptions about certain
diseases. "The word chronic is often misinterpreted among patients. Reaction to
the particular cartoon that demonstrated 'chronic' did prove a bit shocking to
some patients. However, cartoons allowed the word to be talked through and it
was a tipping point for patients to better understand what their condition
was," she said.
Rogers, research director, National Institute for Health Research Collaboration
for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (NIHR CLAHRC), Wessex, who
also worked on the study, said that patient-designed cartoons can give
life-saving advice and help them manage their long term conditions while also
findings can be used to develop cartoons that reflect patients' experiences.
These cartoons can also help patients to think about where they can get support
to suit their needs. However, more research needs to be done in this area to
build on our findings," Rogers said.
The study was published in the Health
Services Research Journal