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2014 Graphic Medicine Conference to Be Held on Johns Hopkins Medical Campus - 06/17/2014

2014 Graphic Medicine Conference to Be Held on Johns Hopkins Medical Campus

Release Date: June 17, 2014
Jane's Story
A page from "Jane's Story."
Credit: Lydia Gregg, M.A., C.M.I., F.A.M.I.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Art as Applied to Medicine is hosting the fifth annual Graphic Medicine Conference, to take place June 26 to June 28 in the Preclinical Teaching Building on the Johns Hopkins medical campus.

This year’s conference, “Comics and Medicine: From Private Lives to Public Health,” aims to highlight the relationship between comics, personal health narratives and public health issues such as barriers to health care and the stigma of illness. The programming will consist of a mix of peer-reviewed academic papers, lectures, workshops and an informal exhibition.

More and more, comics and graphic novels are finding their way off the bookshelf and into the exam room. Experts say that, especially when patients are young, comics can be a great educational tool to explain what can be a scary medical process in a light and accessible manner.

At The Johns Hopkins Hospital, for example, researchers in the Division of Interventional Neuroradiology are using comics in an ongoing study lead by Monica Pearl, M.D., to encourage parents of retinoblastoma patients to keep a record of their child’s treatment and recovery. They have created a comic, Jane’s Story, which is meant to engage the child and parent. Lydia Gregg, M.A., C.M.I., F.A.M.I., a Certified Medical Illustrator and Chair of the 2014 Graphic Medicine Conference, took the lead in creating the comic. Jane’s Story describes the retinoblastoma treatment procedure through characters to which the child can relate and provides room to keep track of a child’s progress. The parent guides the child through the diary and writes the entries with them, providing a chronological record for the physician. Stickers are also supplied for recording pain intensity and to add interactivity to the comic.

Parents of the children undergoing treatment appreciate the graphic narrative presentation of the information, bringing the book with them to each visit and using it as reference material in conversations with care providers. Children enjoy learning about the conditions they are dealing with, because it makes the issue easier to understand, more relatable and sometimes even fun.

Beyond communicating clinical information, comics are unique in their ability to convey the illness stories of adults as well. This is particularly evident in keynote speaker, Ellen Forney’s award-winning graphic memoir, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me, which chronicles of her struggle with bipolar disorder. Forney’s work makes the perspective of patients with bipolar disorder easier to grasp through the lens of her personal story as she explores the link between mental disorders and creativity in her book. Forney and over seventy additional presenters will be discussing their work at this unique event.
More information on registering for the conference and fees available is here. Registration closes June 23.

Members of the media interested in attending any part of this conference should contact Lauren Nelson, [email protected], 410-955-8725. More information on the conference schedule and guest speakers is also available upon request.

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