U.S. National Institutes of Health

Comics for Health and Medicine

Description: College and health professional students examine the field of Graphic Medicine, focusing on the use of comics as a medium for communicating stories about medicine and the experience of illness.

This module uses comics and drawing activities to help students better understand the multiple perspectives of those who interact with the health care system, and shows how comics can be used to communicate about the illness experience. The following seven classes provide suggested readings, discussions, activities, and a comic-making project, for guiding students’ study of how images and text can be used together to effectively communicate stories.

Information about the author of the module, suggested uses, and academic objectives, is available at About the Module.

Class 1: Introduction to Graphic Storytelling

The first class introduces students to the medium of comics, or graphic storytelling, and its characteristics.

Class 2: Stories of Illness—The Patient’s Experience

The second class focuses on the patient’s experience of illness, examining comics about illness written by patients themselves.

Class 3: Exploring Normalcy, Disability, Stigmatization, and Bias Through Graphic Medicine

The third class explores notions of “normal” and “abnormal” in the context of illness. What does it mean to have a disability, and what can comics add to the conversation?

Class 4: Caring for Others—The Perspective of Family Members

The fourth class focuses on the perspective of family members, exploring the challenges they face when navigating the complex health care system. Students begin to consider how point of view affects stories.

Class 5: Health Care Through the Eyes of the Clinician

The fifth class examines the challenges and responsibilities of being a clinician, and how professionals who work in health care deal with doubts, mistakes, and negative feelings that can arise.

Class 6: The Medical Students’ Experience

The sixth class focuses on the experiences of students, and what can be learned about the culture of medicine by examining the comics they create.

Class 7: Comics-Making Project

This final class is a comics-making activity where students tell their own stories and create a comic.