Eva Katharina Masel

Marjana Bernot


Clinical Division of Palliative Care,Medical University of Vienna









Developing a communication course in palliative care for medical students by using comics



Studying medicine comprises an extensive acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Concerns about deficiencies in these qualities have led to changes in medical curricula that now aim to focus more on communication skills, ethics and social sciences. This may result in so called rounded doctors, who are able to adapt to the needs of patients from different backgrounds. This wide range of skills is supposed to be strengthened by discussing aspects of Medical Humanities (MH) and PC skills with medical students in their pre-clinical year and in developing a communication course in PC by using MC. At the Medical University of Vienna, communication skills should be addressed by using graphic illustrations and patient stories. The different perspectives of patients, caregivers, relatives or medical staff should be illustrated by using MC. MC do offer a broad palette: to impart knowledge,
to illustrate problems, to accuse, to offer solutions, to show ways, to communicate, and to offer hope.



Specific goal of this project is to develop a communication course in Palliative Care (PC) for medical students by using Medical Comics (MC).


Methods / process

Medical students in their pre-clinical year will be assigned either one of three MC within a obligatory blended learning setting via an online platform and will be asked to reflect on the comics by answering three questions within one week. After that, a compulsory lecture about MC in PC will be held.
Mixed methods will be used in two sequential phases: (1) evaluation of the compulsory lecture via the online platform (2) thematic analysis of medical students’ blended learning reflections by using NVIVO 12.


Intended outputs / impact

MC as a part of MH offer the possibility to address challenging situations within medical settings by using graphic illustrations. Therefore, MC might suit well for the teaching of PC communication skills.