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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Facilitating narrative medical discussions of type 1 diabetes with computer visualizations and photography

Brian K Smith, Jeana Frost, Meltem Albayrak, Rajneesh Sudhakar
Patient Education and Counseling 2006, 64 (1): 313-21
16859870

OBJECTIVE: Patient-centered approaches to medicine suggest the need for physicians to become more aware of concerns and needs expressed in patient narratives. However, patients and physicians have different goals and discourse styles during consultations. We attempt to bridge these differences by providing patients with ways to collect, visualize, and describe behavioral and biomedical data.

METHODS: We describe an intervention where individuals with type 1 diabetes photograph health-related behaviors. These images and blood glucose records are displayed in computer visualizations and used during patient-physician interviews.

RESULTS: Qualitative analyses of interview data with patients who photographed their lives suggest the range of difficulties associated with diabetes self-management. The visualizations helped them articulate concerns about stress, peer relations, and unhealthy routines.

CONCLUSION: Interventions that combine biomedical and biopsychosocial data during patient-physician consultations may be beneficial for patients, helping them reflect on correlations between behaviors and health. Physicians are provided with contextual evidence to better understand patient issues around diabetes management.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: We suggest that this and similar interventions could be used as an occasional diagnostic to help patients articulate stories of their health-related practices. Annotated archives of photographs and glucose data may also be useful tools for sharing diabetes experiences with newly diagnosed patients.

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