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A Story That Could Save Lives

Researchers at NWCPHP have drawn from years of research and created a unique intervention -- a graphic novella. This novella aims to illustrate calling 911 and performing CPR for the Chinese community.

Researchers at NWCPHP have drawn from years of research and created a unique intervention—a graphic novella. This novella aims to illustrate calling 911 and performing CPR for the Chinese community.

June 13, 2013

Even though King County, Washington, has the highest survival rate from bystander cardiac arrest in the world, there are disparities in the acceptance of dispatch-assisted CPR by callers with limited English proficiency. To address this need, NWCPHP has created a graphic novella to educate Chinese immigrants with limited English proficiency on how to call 911 and perform CPR in an emergency. It’s anticipated that the novella could save lives as it becomes available to the community.

The graphic novella was developed over a 10-month period with numerous iterations based on community feedback. A full draft of the novella was pilot tested at Chinese community health fairs in September and October of 2012, with 132 people agreeing to read the novella and complete a survey. Of those surveyed 79 percent said they felt they could perform CPR after reading the novella and 97 percent said they would recommend the graphic novella to a friend or family member.

“I have never, in my 20 years as a health communication researcher, been part of such an elaborate effort to produce a culturally sensitive, linguistically congruent educational piece,” says Hendrika Meischke, the Principal Investigator for the research study that produced the novella. “And preliminary data suggest the novella is effective in increasing awareness of interpreter services for 911 communication and the essential components of bystander CPR.”

The story features a Chinese couple in their 60s. It's a normal day, when all of a sudden the grandmother hears grandpa collapse in the other room. Rushing to his aid, she recollects her grandson’s advice to call 911. When she calls 911, she asks for an interpreter and is guided through the steps of performing CPR until medics arrive. The novella is based on years of formative research, and the production of the novella involved continuous feedback from the target audience, stakeholders, academics, and creative team.

“One of the real powerful pieces of this story is that it’s also told through pictures,” says Devora Eisenberg, Research Coordinator for the project. “The graphic novella format is culturally appropriate and instructions on how to perform CPR are better told visually. In fact, at the community health fairs people were asking to take the graphic novella home with them. It was fabulous.”

Researchers are hopeful that they can take this good work and formally evaluate its effectiveness on actual CPR performance. This research could help influence how to use this graphic novella and also provide strategies for exploring how to communicate with other limited English proficiency communities about 911 and CPR.

“The next step is to test the effectiveness of the novella against the more labor-intensive CPR trainings that involve an instructor,” says Meischke. “We’ve submitted a grant to the National Institute of Nursing, which will be led by my colleague Mei-Po Yip, PhD. We want to know if it’s as good as instructor-based training.”

One hundred copies of the novella have been printed for dissemination into the community. If you would like to receive a copy of the novella, please contact Hsio-Ying Lo.

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