Article by PIF member, Eleanor Stanley:
I’m a big believer that in health communications – whether film or copy – there’s always a human angle to be found. But when it comes to patient information, there is often a tension between the desire to provide information and the need to engage the audience. This ‘information deficit’ model is compelling, but if we want people to actually engage with a message, we need to make sure it really resonates with them. That’s why in patient information, a person-centred approach works especially well.
This summer, we worked with the Evelina London Children’s Hospital to make three patient information films. Each provides person-centred patient information about seizure-related conditions and treatments, but approaches it very differently:
The first, About non-epileptic attack disorder (NEAD), provides information through the perspective of three young women living with this little-known condition, which causes events that can look like seizures, which can be helped through psychological, rather than medical, intervention. We filmed the young people in their homes and doing pastimes so their personalities shone through, to provide information but also positive role models and hope for other young people.
The second, Having an EEG, is a step-by-step guide to coming in for an EEG, aimed at children and parents. This topic could be quite information heavy, so the film is narrated by the child and emphasises her human interactions (with her mother and healthcare staff). Because the focus is on the child’s experience, it is relatable and reassuring for children watching.
Finally, Home video EEG telemetry shows parents how to set up hospital cameras to record their children’s seizures. This film is the most technical of the three. But we think even an instructional video needs to feel interesting and relevant to the audience. As well as showing what buttons to press, we wanted to reassure parents feeling daunted by the equipment, so we thought carefully about how to bring the human experience through.
What all three films have in common – I hope – is warmth and heart, so that they empower and inspire, not just inform. This requires digging a little deeper, working closely with communications colleagues, clinical teams, patients and loved ones, and mulling over how to meet people’s emotional, as well as practical, needs. But patients tell us that the results are worth it. After all, if the healthcare is person centred, then the content around it should be too.