Art and story-telling combined to promote health literacy

Mandy ArchibaldMandy Archibald has combined her love for art and story-telling with her academic interest in knowledge translation to meet the practical needs of health-care providers and parents for easy-to-understand medical information.

A PhD candidate at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing and a visual artist, Archibald has created an interactive, electronic storybook that provides parents with basic information about managing their children’s asthma.
 
Pediatric asthma is the most common chronic disease in children and places a high burden on parents who are largely responsible for their children’s day-to-day care. Yet research shows that parents often feel inadequately equipped to provide care for their children’s asthma.
 
As part of her PhD studies, Archibald interviewed parents of children with asthma at the Stollery Children’s Hospital emergency department and at the Northeast Community Health Centre in Edmonton, which serves a large immigrant population. She discovered that many parents were having difficulty in managing their children’s asthma and were not getting the hands-on knowledge they needed. They often did not know what questions to ask or how to seek information.
 
Archibald created a user-friendly graphic storybook about asthma using characters and real-life situations parents could easily relate to and with information that they would find useful and relevant. The e-book grew out of her dissertation, which explores the use of arts-based approaches to knowledge-translation. Her findings have important implications as interest continues to shift towards family-centred, community-based care, and improving public health education to serve diverse communities and literacy levels.
 
Archibald received WCHRI support for her studies through a graduate studentship and partial funding as a doctoral trainee in the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program supported by the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. Oxford is her next stop, where she will continue her studies as a post-doctoral fellow. Her goal as a researcher is to pursue her passion for “addressing health literacy, especially among hard-to-reach groups.”