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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid