Project Description

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common diagnosis following a traumatic event. Trauma seizes the brain and compromises emotional, cognitive, and bodily functions, often making it debilitating for patients. PTSD is believed to reflect real stress-induced changes in neurobiological systems, yet it is not well understood; few community resources are available despite its high prevalence. A case-based eLearning module with three 2D animations will be created to educate family physicians about the neurobiology of trauma for continuing professional development (CPD) and improved patient care. Illustrations and motion graphics will be used to teach clinically relevant scientific information to help doctors understand the mechanisms of PTSD and identify patients at risk. Animations will be contextualized within an unfolding PTSD patient case scenario. Because PTSD deals with complex subject matter including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse [1], it is difficult to portray visually. A graphic narrative style will be used to tactfully convey such information without overwhelming the audience. This module will be embedded in a large-scale initiative called the Online Psychiatric Education Network (OPEN). eLearning is an effective, accessible, and innovative way to offer evidence-based training. OPEN is a CPD website that will teach on a range of psychiatric disorders to meet the need for better response to mental illness within communities. This module hopes to promote positive patient outcomes and foster not only a return to wellness, but possibilities for post-traumatic growth.

This project will employ an iterative design research approach. Design research aims to produce innovations and sustain their development through formative feedback, collaboration, and multiple iterations for a more robust design. Family physicians will assess the accuracy, clarity, usability and educational design of the case and animations. Feedback will be critically analyzed to guide final module modifications. Iterative design process and outcomes will be written as a scientific report intended for publication. In particular, this study will provide insight for the future development of 2D visualizations for medical education in areas like psychiatry that require nuanced explanations. This project hopes to inspire the use of such illustrative metaphors.