Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Storytelling program helps change medical students' perspectives on dementia

Date:
June 18, 2013
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Treating patients with dementia can be viewed as a difficult task for doctors, but researchers say that storytelling may be one way to improve medical students' perceptions of people affected by the condition. Participation in a creative storytelling program called TimeSlips creates a substantial improvement in student attitudes.

Treating patients with dementia can be viewed as a difficult task for doctors, but Penn State College of Medicine researchers say that storytelling may be one way to improve medical students' perceptions of people affected by the condition. Participation in a creative storytelling program called TimeSlips creates a substantial improvement in student attitudes.

Daniel George, assistant professor of humanities, tested the effects of the TimeSlips program in an elective course he teaches at the college. Fourth-year medical students worked with patients at Country Meadows, a Hershey-based assisted living community. These patients are affected by advanced dementia and live in a memory-support unit requiring a locked environment.

Medical students commonly perceive persons with dementia as being challenging to work with.

"We currently lack effective drugs for dementia, and there's a sense that these are cases where students can't do much to benefit the patient," George said. "The perception is that they're hard to extract information from, you don't know if that information is reliable, and there are often other complicated medical issues to deal with."

TimeSlips is a non-pharmacological approach to dementia care that uses creative storytelling in a group setting and encourages participants to use their imagination rather than focusing on their inability to remember chronologically. Pictures with a staged, surreal image --for example, an elephant sitting on a park bench -- are shared with all participants, who are encouraged to share their impressions of what is happening in the picture. As part of George's elective, medical students spent one month facilitating TimeSlips with groups of five to 10 residents and helping the residents build stories in poem form during their interactions.

"All comments made during a session -- even ones that do not necessarily make logical sense -- are validated and put into the poem because it is an attempt to express meaning," George said. "The sessions become energetic and lively as the residents are able to communicate imaginatively, in a less linear way. In the process, students come to see dementia differently. It is very humanizing, revealing personality and remaining strengths where our culture tends to just focus on disease, decline and loss."

Student attitudes were measured before and after the TimeSlips experience using a validated instrument called the Dementia Attitudes Scale. A significant improvement inoverall attitude was observed over the course of the program, and students also demonstrated significant increases on sub-scales measuring comfort with people with dementia and knowledge about interacting with and treating these patients. Results were reported in the journal Academic Medicine.

"In talking with my students, they consistently express their anxieties about medical school training them to see patients as a diagnosis rather than as a fully-fledged person," George said. "An activity like TimeSlips, which emphasizes the creative spirit in people with fairly advanced dementia, helps give students a richer sense of who the person was and what made them tick."

At Penn State College of Medicine, which emphasizes the humanities in medical care and established the first Department of Humanities at a medical school in the nation, George hopes to expand TimeSlips volunteer opportunities to include all medical students and not exclusively fourth-year students. By reaching students earlier in their education and exposing them to a creative activity involving people with dementia, he hopes that TimeSlips could help nudge more trainees into geriatric medicine.

"As the incidence of dementia-related conditions is rising globally, the demand for high-quality, humanistic geriatric care is becoming more urgent," George said.

There has already been an effort to extend TimeSlips volunteer opportunities to nurses, faculty, staff and patients.

"Several patients from our hospital, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, have already begun taking part in the program," he said. "Even though they are experiencing their own illnesses, they are able to find purpose in helping another vulnerable population through creative storytelling."

Co-authors of the study are Heather Stuckey, assistant professor, Department of Medicine, and Megan Whitehead, research assistant, Department of Humanities, both of Penn State College of Medicine.

George has volunteered on an advisory board for Timeslips with no financial stake in the project.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. The original article was written by Matthew Solovey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Storytelling program helps change medical students' perspectives on dementia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130618113846.htm>.
Penn State. (2013, June 18). Storytelling program helps change medical students' perspectives on dementia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130618113846.htm
Penn State. "Storytelling program helps change medical students' perspectives on dementia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130618113846.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins