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December 17 - 19
National Institute of Design
Catherine Stones

School of Design, University of Leeds, UK
Leeds, United Kingdom

Catherine Stones is a teacher and researcher at the School of Design, University of Leeds, UK. In her PhD in Design she examined the impact that tools have on the graphic design ideation process. She also has strong research interests in the Health Communication area and is currently supervising two PhD students working on Design For Health Communication, as well as collaborating with staff in the National Health Service, UK.


Information Design For People With Chronic Pain
What Can We Learn From the Pictures Patients Make?

This paper investigates how people visualise pain negatively through metaphors. It seeks to understand how Information Design could assist to create more motivational images through reversal of such visualizations.
The purpose was to elicit a set of visual properties that could aid in the creation of positive imagery for a self-help tool directed at people with chronic pain.

The paper uses content analysis, both qualitative and quantitative, to evaluate patient-generated imagery as well as visualisations used in existing self-help material. It also presents a prototype design of a self-help tool, developed using visual properties identified by the reversal of pain imagery.

The findings suggest that there is a significant gap between images used in publications and patient's images of their own pain or images/metaphors produced in art workshops. Images in self-help publications are chiefly used for illustrative purposes and do not exploit the active, metaphorical qualities of images created in art workshops. The challenge is to devise visual metaphors that all audiences can understand and that are generally applicable.
This work concludes that while there are some rich metaphors already used in textual form, they are yet to be visualised to make them more accessible, appealing, and in some cases, more memorable.

More research is needed to understand how patients respond emotionally to the pictures generated - the motivating positive qualities attributed, and also the effectiveness of particular metaphors; the visualised bus metaphor for instance is just one of many metaphors used in self-help material. It would also be rewarding to examine cultural issues in patient-generated images and to widen the scope of samples used in our research, as well as the samples of existing materials.

Finan, N. (2002). Visual literacy in images used for medical education and health promotion. Journal of Audiovisual media in Medicine, 25 (1), 16-23.

Hayes, S.C., Strosahl, K.D., & Wilson K.G., (2004). Acceptance and commitment therapy: An experiential approach to behavior change. Guildford Press, USA.

Houts, P., Doak, C.C., Doak, L.G, & Loscalzo, M.J. (2006). The role of pictures in improving health communication: A review of research on attention, comprehension, recall and adherance. Patient Education and Counseling 61, 173-190.

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