From Clinical Trials to Picture Books

By Michelle Chan

By Michelle Chan

The Creative Challenge of Translating Research

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If you have, or have ever taken care of, a young child, you might have experienced an unsettling panic when they start to exhibit symptoms of being unwell. Is that cough normal? Is it a cold? Is it croup? And what do you do about it?

Instead of scrolling through websites with complex and confusing information, you could instead look through a simple and engaging infographic about common children’s conditions. Two research programs at the University of Alberta — Translating Evidence in Child Health to Enhance Outcomes (ECHO Research) and Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence (ARCHE) — are working to help caregivers identify and manage symptoms, and improve health outcomes for children, by creating arts-based resources like picture ebooks, animated videos, and infographics.

These resources are part of the programs’ knowledge translation efforts: the process of taking information from reliable, evidence-based research and presenting it in a user-friendly form for everyone to understand. Using creative knowledge translation mediums, such as storytelling and digital tools, allows for complex information to be provided in a more engaging and accessible format than, say, long reports or complex, jargon-filled websites. Stories and infographics can be used to communicate health information and messages in a way that is clear and understandable to parents.

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ECHO, ARCHE, and Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids (TREKK) have been collaborating since 2014 to develop creative resources for families and caregivers on common childhood illnesses including bronchiolitis, urinary tract infections, croup, and chronic pain. A national needs assessment conducted in 2015 identified the pediatric conditions that are most in need of more educational resources. To ensure the resources are meaningful and useful, families are involved in the development of the resources from start to finish. The Pediatric Parent Advisory Group at the University of Alberta, comprised of parents, legal guardians, and grandparents, brings a caregiver’s perspective to inform the development of new knowledge translation tools for families.

The caregivers’ own stories about encountering their child’s symptoms are used in the infographic tools, to help make the information relatable to other caregivers who might be experiencing the same things:

“I always knew our kids would get sick, but I thought it would be a one or two day thing. This lasted the whole week.”

“She was eating a lot less and would wake up just to cough.”

“We didn’t know a fever could be the only sign of a UTI.”

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The process from research-based recommendations to consumable resource is a long and collaborative one, and worth all the effort.

So far, the full range of tools address administering needles, fevers, ear infections, chronic pain, croup, vomiting and diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and bronchiolitis. The reception to these resources has been exceedingly positive from both caregivers and healthcare practitioners alike.

“This is a fantastic video and such an amazing resource,” one user told ECHO. “I hope to use it with our undergraduate nursing students for pre-learning for simulation. It is perfect as it is a great overview of the care and management of a child with bronchiolitis.”

You can help support their work by voting for their latest video “Cough, Cold, and Wheeze: How to help manage your child’s bronchiolitis” which has been entered in CIHR’s IHDCYH Video Talks Competition. Watch and vote for the video by liking it on YouTube before November 30, 2019.”Cough, Cold, and Wheeze: How to help manage your child’s bronchiolitis” which has been entered in CIHR’s IHDCYH Video Talks Competition. Watch and vote for the video by liking it on YouTube before November 30, 2019.”

Visit http://bit.ly/ECHOresources to see all of the arts-based knowledge translation tools.http://bit.ly/ECHOresources to see all of the arts-based knowledge translation tools.

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Michelle Chan is the Stakeholder Engagement and Research Coordinator for ECHO Research in the Faculty of Nursing and the Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta.