Health Communication

Katie Sloter

Katie Sloter

Hello everyone! Hope you are hanging in there with the end of the semester approaching!

Health communication. What does that mean to you? Depending on your department, you may have different ideas. You could consider it to be a report conveying qualitative or quantitative data, that perfectly executed graph, or a specifically planned intervention. It could mean a speech, a lecture, a luncheon.

I personally enjoy the power of the arts when utilized to impart health messages, specifically theater. I fell in love with theater very young, and was actually accepted into a theater conservatory after high school. My parents encouraged us and our various curiosities– I remember going to horse camp, ‘young scientist camp’ and theater camp.

I have always loved theater, but I first saw theater being used as a way to communicate health messages when I was 16 years old, the summer after my junior year of high school.  Children from the local schools in Tororo, Uganda sang songs and performed skits about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and behavioral risk factors. They were dynamic, entertaining– and I remember almost verbatim their messages to this day.

Inspired by this idea, I joined ‘Hope Troupe,’ a theater troupe that wrote vignettes about the various forms of child abuse, and performed them at local schools. I was amazed at how the children and even teachers related and felt so connected to our characters on stage in a way that wouldn’t have been possible with statistics alone. There was a forum for counseling and private discussion afterwards, as well as a way to follow-up with children who identified with our characters. Additionally I worked as a Standardized Patient, using theater as an educational tool for future physicians who would diagnose my various characters of her ailments (including everything from extreme pain from an ectopic pregnancy to an over-medicated college student with a respiratory illness).

This week, I am so pleased to be able to attend Sarah Jones and her one woman performance ‘A Right to Care.’ (see sample work here). I am excited to see theater utilized as a means of health communication on campus. Check out her (free!) performance at 3:30 pm on Thursday, March 31 at Rackham. Don’t forget to register, and hope I see you there too!

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