In Fall 2021, the investigator will facilitate a virtual ‘book club,’ in which undergraduate pre-health students will read and discuss graphic pathographies (memoirs about illness using comics). Sessions will be held biweekly via Zoom throughout the second half of the semester, and co-facilitated by a local comics artist. Book club sessions will be primarily comprised of group discussion and reflection on the assigned comics and the topics they address, including the diagnosis and symptomology of various disorders and illnesses, the visual and literary devices used to communicate the patient experience, and the depiction of clinicians.
In conjunction with the book club activities, participants will be invited to complete surveys in order to evaluate the effects of the program on their self-reported knowledge and perceptions about comics, graphic medicine, healthcare, and patient experiences. Changes in empathy will also be assessed using the Kiersma-Chen Empathy Scale, an instrument designed to assess empathy in health professions students.
By surveying participants in the Graphic Medicine book club, the investigator aims to learn more about the effectiveness of comics and graphic memoirs as a tool for the development of a more holistic and creative conception of illnesses – particularly those with invisible symptoms – and as a means for cultivating empathy in future clinicians.