From Panel to Patient: Making Comics to Teach about Palliative Care

Palliative care can improve quality of life in patients facing life-threatening illnesses by addressing their physical, emotional, spiritual, and practical needs. Research has shown that palliative care initiated early in the disease trajectory improves patients’ mood, quality of life, and even survival. Nevertheless, timely referral and willingness to initiate palliative care are hindered by stigma and the misconception that palliative care is for patients who have exhausted treatment options. Well-designed comics may be useful for addressing complex, stigmatized topics because they are unintimidating, easy to consume, and relatable to readers. Unsurprisingly, educational comics can teach more effectively than text or verbal instruction. Since palliative care is valued by patients for being a person-centred, patient-led experience, comics may be uniquely suited to educate about this topic by embedding information in the context of an individual patient journey. The comic, currently a work-in-progress, will include a didactic narrative about palliative care, and a situational narrative describing the patient experience. Formative feedback from readers will inform visual and narrative design of the comic, which will be completed in summer 2019.

Speaker Bio

Mona Li is a second-year Biomedical Communications student at the University of Toronto who loves to tell stories. Since completing her BSc in Honours Psychology at McGill University, she’s been interested in how visual communication can improve healthcare by democratizing complex health and science information. In addition to her medical illustration and design work, she makes webcomics for chronic illness and mental health advocacy. Following graduation in Summer 2019, she hopes to continue using visual stories to make patient and medical education more accessible.