Booster Shot Comics

Booster Shot Comics Blog

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Abstract for Comics & Medicine Conference


Alex and I are busy preparing for the Comics & Medicine Conference in Toronto in July. Here is the abstract for our presentation. We are going to be on a panel with a presentation called "A children’s comic book for promoting healthy lifestyle choices" by Lydia Gregg et al. and one called "Interpreting the unfamiliar: comics as a tool for improving the care in pediatric patients with retinoblastoma"by Allison Zemek et al. We can't wait to meet all these other comics and medicine people...especially the ones focused on pediatrics! -Gary

Here is the abstract....

"Iggy and the Inhalers" turns ordinary asthma medications into brave super-heroes and common allergens into monstrous villains. Using comics, animation, and trading cards, this project helps kids understand how to take control of their asthma. The series is entirely created, drawn, and produced by physician and cartoonist Alex Thomas and health communication specialist Gary Ashwal.

Adherence to National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) guidelines is a national objective identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To help meet NAEPP guidelines, staff at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics identified a need for more efficient and effective knowledge-transfer from asthma specialists to newly diagnosed pediatric asthma patients.

"Iggy and the Inhalers" is an applied research project that utilizes the language of comics (i.e., repeated images, spatial connections, self-paced reading), which allows newly-diagnosed pediatric asthma patients of different health literacy levels to understand the basics of asthma pathophysiology, signs, symptoms, medication-use, and triggers. With trading cards and animation, the project imitates the multi-format narrative used by popular children’s entertainment. These collectable cards and comics aim to extend learning beyond the brief period of one-on-one instruction in the clinic setting, to a more lasting, intuitive understanding of asthma management.

The creators tested an initial draft with 31 kids in two pediatric allergy clinics to collect feedback on story, characters, and comprehension of medical facts. Results were incorporated into the final version of the comic and animated video. In a later review, an informal audience-test of the comics and trading cards was conducted at the annual 2011 Madison-Area Asthma Camp.

A grant-funded pilot study is underway to evaluate the effectiveness of this multimedia project in newly diagnosed asthmatic children at 3 locations: a private practice, an outpatient allergy clinic, and an inpatient hospital unit.