Bilingual Comics on the Border as Graphic Medicine: Journaling and Doodling for Dementia Caregiving during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The use of comics can be a powerful tool to expand educational outreach efforts for improving the health and well-being of people everywhere. Dr. Ian Williams coined the term "graphic medicine" to denote the use of comics in medical education and patient care ("Graphic Medicine"). Alzheimer's disease affects approximately five million Americans and is expected to triple to 13.8 million by 2050. Hispanics and Blacks are disproportionately affected at a higher rate than other groups ("Fact and Figures"). There is a lack of culturally relevant educational materials available for these populations. To address this disparity, an interdisciplinary community engaged collaboration was initiated with the Alzheimer's Association West Texas Chapter, The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), and Dukes Comics to produce a series of virtual workshops entitled, "Journaling and Doodling for Stress Reduction and Relaxation" for caregivers of people living with Alzheimer's and other dementias. These sessions were live-streamed and began during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spanish sessions have also been provided to the public. Health information about the disease process and common caregiver challenges are provided in each session. A guided journaling and doodling activity are also included. Journaling has been shown to be an effective and easy tool to use for stress management (Scott). The impetus behind this project was to address the dire need for increasing access to Alzheimer's disease education and resources in El Paso, Texas, a border community that is also home to Fort Bliss Army base. Hispanics comprise approximately 82% of the population and include a large Spanish-speaking segment. Language is often a barrier to health care access and education. To meet the aim of increasing accessibility, the workshops and comics are available in both English and Spanish and soon in-person. This project received a 2022 joint seed grant from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and UTEP to conduct research and examine data from these workshops that will be provided in-person in marginalized and multilingual Latina communities surrounding El Paso starting in the fall.