News / Health

Comics Make Medicine Less Scary for Young Patients

Comics Make Medicine Less Scary for Young Patientsi
X
June Soh
July 08, 2014 10:06 PM
A growing number of comics and graphic novels are finding their way into medical exam rooms. Experts say that especially for young patients, comics can be a great tool to explain what can be a scary medical process in an easy and entertaining manner. The increasing and varied use of graphic arts was the focus of a recent Comics and Medicine conference at Johns Hopkins Medical Campus in Maryland. VOA’s June Soh talked with physicians there.
June Soh

A growing number of comics and graphic novels are finding their way into medical exam rooms. Experts say that especially for young patients, comics can be a great tool to explain what can be a scary medical process in an easy and entertaining manner.  Comics also play a role for adults and emergency room doctors.  The increasing and varied use of graphic arts was the focus of a recent Comics and Medicine conference at Johns Hopkins Medical Campus in Maryland.

Medications are the heroes and allergens become villains in the Iggy and The Inhalers series. Alex Thomas, a pediatric allergist at the University of Wisconsin, uses this video and other comics he created for his asthma patients with his partner Gary Ashwal, a health communications specialist.  

“What we are trying to do is to insert scientific information into those metaphors so that kids are excited to be learning about super heroes and learning about super villains, and the strength and the weakness without kind of realizing they are actually leaning about asthma pathology, asthma triggers and the correct use of medications, and the mechanisms of action," said Thomas.

There are no significant statistics yet on the effectiveness of comics as an educational tool, but, Thomas says, his tests show promising results.

“For example, one of the questions was how does a ‘Bronchodilator’ work as a type of asthma medication.  Before the comic book, 18 percent kids got it right. After the comic book, 68 percent kids got it right," he said.

The use of comics is not limited to children.  Brian Kloss is an emergency medicine physician at SUNY Upstate Medical University in New York.  He recently published ‘Toxicology in a Box.’ It contains 150 flashcards he uses to teach medical students to recognize and treat drug overdoses and poisonings.

“I think that all of medicine can actually be boiled down into comic book illustration.  By taking complex subject matter and presenting it in comic book format or comic book illustration format makes it much easier to digest and learn much more quickly, effectively," said Kloss.

The Comics and Medicine conference included sessions where doctors learned about using comics in their practices and workshops on how to draw them.   

“I use them [comics] a lot in my teaching with medical students as a way of helping explore various themes that I think are really important for doctors understanding the patients experience of illness and how to understand complicated stories," explained Michael Green, a doctor of Internal Medicine at the Penn State College of Medicine.

There are also a growing number of cartoon style memoirs on illness, including the New York Times bestseller, “Marbles".   Ellen Forney, who chronicled her struggle with bipolar disorder, was a keynote speaker at the conference.

“I think that comics are medium that is really, really powerful for telling personal stories that there is a lot of specific information with the words but especially in comic about moods, the use of pictures// can create a sense of emotion or tone," said Forney.

Comics are still a small part of the healing arts, but doctors who use them say they play an increasingly important role.

 

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid