Using visual art and collaborative reflection to explore medical attitudes toward vulnerable persons
Keywords:Reflective practice, vulnerable populations, visual art, body image
Background: Vulnerable persons often face stigma-related barriers while seeking health care. Innovative education and professional development methods are needed to help change this.
Method: We describe an interdisciplinary group workshop designed around a discomfiting oil portrait, intended to trigger provocative conversations among health care students and practitioners, and we present our mixed methods analysis of participant reflections.
Results: After the workshop, participants were significantly more likely to endorse the statements that the observation and interpretive skills involved in viewing visual art are relevant to patient care and that visual art should be used in medical education to improve students’ observational skills, narrative skills, and empathy with their patients. Subsequent to the workshop, significantly more participants agreed that art interpretation should be required curriculum for health care students. Qualitative comments from two groups from two different education and professional contexts were examined for themes; conversations focused on issues of power, body image/self-esteem, and lessons for clinical practice.
Conclusions: We argue that difficult conversations about affective responses to vulnerable persons are possible in a collaborative context using well-chosen works of visual art that can stand in for a patient.
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