Data Collection

The goal of VIA data collection is to obtain audiovisual documentation of the patient's day-to-day life experiences from the perspective of the patient, in the form of “video diaries”. VIA’s innovative method allows the patients themselves to direct and implement the collection of information on their lives in the form of visual illness narratives, showing what is important to him or her about the experience, how it makes him or her feel, and how he or she responds.

Each VIA participant is loaned a lightweight handheld video camcorder and asked to “teach your doctor about your life and your condition”. Seeking honest portrayals of their lives rather than professional production values, a Field Coordinator instructs participants how to operate the camcorders, but does not teach film-making technique or visual style. Participants use VIA to show and tell their clinicians about what it is like to live with their health conditions. With that in mind, participants are encouraged to tell their stories, taping anything and everything they feel reveals their lives, dreams, successes, and frustrations. A Field Coordinator provides each participant with suggestions of situations and scenes to tape, including getting up in the morning, going to school, extracurricular activities, hanging out with friends, eating a meal, at work, touring their home, and visits to doctors and other health care professionals. Participants interview their family, friends, and anyone else who knows them and their medical condition. These interviews are often very important to the understanding of the health-related knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors of the participant and those closest to him or her. Perhaps most revealing, participants are encouraged to set up the camera and talk to it on a daily basis, sharing their inner thoughts. They are encouraged to talk about whatever is on their minds, including how their day went, what they are looking forward to, thoughts about their health status, or anything else they wish to share. A Field Coordinator meets regularly with the participant, usually in his or her home, to collect finished tapes, provide blank tapes, talk about how the project is going, and offer support, encouragement, and brainstorming with the participant about what they may wish to tape in the coming week.

The completion of a visual narrative usually takes between six and ten weeks. Some VIA participants have created over eighty hours of tape for their visual narratives. Others produce only six or seven hours. The project is finished when the Field Coordinator and the participant agree that all facets of the project have been satisfactorily completed. This includes showing daily life, conducting interviews, and creating personal monologues, but is decided individually based on the narrative motivation and desires of the participant.

>>Learn how the visual narratives are analyzed

Related Publications

view Rich, M., J. Polvinen, et al. (2005). "Visual Narratives of the Pediatric Illness Experience: Children Communicating with Clinicians Through Video." Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America14(3 [special issue on Child Psychiatry and the Media]): 571-587.
view Rich, M., S. Lamola, et al. (2000). "Video intervention/prevention assessment: A patient-centered methodology for understanding the adolescent illness experience." Journal of Adolescent Health27(3): 155-165.

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