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Integrating drawings into health curricula: university educators’ perspectives


The literature has identified promising findings regarding the application of arts-based initiatives to enhance healthcare professional (HCP) training. Research shows that drawings offer a window into the authentic, insider view of health and illness, with potential to be a platform for healthcare student and HCP learning. In addition, drawings may also have a place in health communication. Our previous work provides support for the educational application of patients’ drawings in bringing HCPs closer to the patient’s lived experience. Subsequently, this study aimed to explore university educators’ opinions regarding the implementation of drawings as an educational tool for higher education healthcare students. The objective of this study was to explore pathways for using drawings as an art form in an educational context, and provide recommendations for developing curricula and resources for further evaluation. Findings from focus group interviews with nine university educators revealed support for the use of drawings as a novel medium as they offer rich insights into the patient’s perspective while encouraging creative and critical thinking. Key perceived benefits were that drawings foster student appreciation of (1) the holistic impact of illness, (2) the importance of patients’ priorities and (3) the value of learning from the patient. Patients’ drawings of their experiences would offer needed opportunities for students to explicitly reflect about the ‘person’ holistically rather than view the patient as a ‘biomedical problem’. Shifting students’ perspectives and possible assumptions to be better aligned with and appreciative of the patient’s experiences was noted as central to adopting a person-centred approach to healthcare practice. Our findings suggest that incorporating drawings, or indeed other art forms, as educational tools would be a valuable addition to the health curricula.

  • arts in health/arts and health
  • education
  • medical humanities

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