Cartoons could be a beneficial way of educating patients and empowering them to cope better with their long-term conditions, research indicates. “Humor is frequently and naturally used by people with chronic illnesses to help them adjust and understand what is happening to them,” explains the study’s leader. “Our study has shown that cartoons could provide clarity to patients and be a way to engage with them. It is an untapped resource and could be a potential approach to support self-management.”
Published in the Health Services Research journal, the study was carried out under the auspices of National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (NIHR CLAHRC) Wessex and Greater Manchester. Researchers used patient feedback to create a series of cartoons which demonstrated common experiences, problems and anxieties. The cartoons were incorporated into a guidebook given to patients who have chronic kidney disease. These patients were asked their opinion on the use of cartoons and humour in regular patient information and then asked to evaluate the cartoons drawn for the guidebook.
Results showed a range of feelings towards the cartoons including amusement, recognition, hostility and incentives to action. Overall patients found the cartoons useful in lightening the tone of information and gave patients insight and understanding they had not had before.
Source: University of Southampton. “Is laughter the best medicine? Cartoons could help patients cope with chronic conditions.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2014.