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Art voice: Graphic health narratives of care providers



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Art has been used as a tool to promote health and well-being within contemporary medicine in areas such as art therapy, writing of illness narratives, and patients’ artistic approaches of health expression.1–3 In recent years from the field of arts and health, graphic health narratives—described in this thesis as “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and / or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer”4(p. 9)—have become a growing source of giving form to health experiences.5–8 Within crisis situations, care providers can experience disturbing, sometimes traumatic physical, emotional, and social stressors. Care providers may find speaking about their experiences inadequate because painful stories emerge each day. Drawing or otherwise creating graphic health narratives may present care providers with another means to deal with their experiences. Working with care providers (referring to individuals who provide or have provided care in professional or personal contexts), I have used a participatory research method for this thesis project that we would like to call “art voice”, which is an arts-based approach inspired by photovoice.15 Particularly, I invited care providers to create their own graphic health narratives and to discuss with each other their graphic health narratives to answer the question: How may art voice elucidate experiences of care provision? Four individuals were recruited and participated in two to three workshops that facilitated their creation of graphic health narratives relating to care provision. Participants, organized into pairs, described and shared their graphic health narratives with each other in a focus group format. Findings suggest that participants alluded to care provision burden and care provision communities. Additionally, graphic health narratives were viewed to have therapeutic benefits as an approach to healing and improving well-being; perhaps in other words, engaging with art voice may be a form of “graphic cure”.16 The potential significance is that using art voice can differently and perhaps better share than words care providers’ complex experiences with wider audiences, such as patients and their families, other care providers, and researchers. These almost infinite human variations may open other infinite avenues of meaning making as we try to grapple with the highly individual impacts that health and illness can have on us, so that we can enhance more personalized healthcare.



graphic health, community health, care provision



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Community Health and Epidemiology


Community and Population Health Science


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