Comics Make Medicine Less Scary for Young Patients

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 with his partner for his asthma patients.
Alex Thomas: “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.”
There are no significant statistics yet on the effectiveness of comics as an educational tool, but, Thomas says, his tests show promising results.
Alex Thomas: “For example, one of the questions was, you know, how does ‘Bronco the Dilator’ 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.”
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.
Brian Kloss: “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 it much more quickly, efficiently.”
The Comics and Medicine conference included sessions where doctors learned about using comics in their practices and workshops on how to draw them.
Dr. Michael Green: “I use them 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.”
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.
Ellen Forney: “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.”
Comics are still a small part of the healing arts, but doctors who use them say they play an increasingly important role. For producer, June Soh, Aimy Cats, VOA News.

Source: VOA


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