Positively Picturing Pain? Using Patient-generated Pictures to Establish Affective Visual Design Qualities
Catherine Stones


This paper examines the role that pictures play in self-help material for people with chronic pain. It reports on preliminary research that is contributing to the design of a picture-led tool to be used in a pain-management context. It is argued that pictures generated by people with pain may be used as the basis for a new approach for designing pictures. By identifying common themes used by people to describe their pain and converting them though reversal, e.g. constrained to free, we can construct a set of visual qualities that we can then apply to the design of supportive, motivational pictures. In addition, this paper performs content analysis on some key books in the chronic pain management area, examining how they employ pictures. It is found, somewhat unsurprisingly, that though analogies are rich within some texts, serving to motivate the reader, they are rarely visualised. Instead pictures are used almost predominantly to instruct. This could be problematic for readers with low literacy skills or short attention spans is something that designers can possibly address by including pictures that are more positive in tone.

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