Drawing on experience: exploring the pedagogical possibilities of using rich pictures in health professions education

Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2021 Dec;26(5):1519-1535. doi: 10.1007/s10459-021-10056-9. Epub 2021 Jun 21.


In both clinical and health professions education research, rich pictures, or participant-generated drawings of complex phenomena, are gaining recognition as a useful method for exploring multifaceted and emotional topics in medicine. For instance, two recent studies used rich pictures to augment semi-structured interviews exploring trainees', health care professionals' (HCPs), and parents' experiences of difficult conversations in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)-an environment in which communication is often challenging, anxiety-provoking, and emotionally distressing. In both studies, participants were invited to draw a picture depicting how they experienced a difficult conversation in this setting. As part of the interview process, participants were asked to both describe how they engaged with rich pictures, and to share their perceptions about the affordances and limitations of this research method. Here, their perspectives are reported and the possibilities of using rich pictures to inform pedagogical innovations in health professions education and research are considered.

Keywords: Clinical training; Families; Health care providers; Medical Education; NICU; Pedagogy; Rich pictures; Trainees; Visual methods.

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Emotions
  • Health Occupations
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Parents
  • Qualitative Research