Pettigrew, Alexandra

The Science Behind Design


The Science Behind Design is a practice-lead project based on visual communication within healthcare. An illustrated story was design and written based on the ‘Human Allergic Response’ as an example of a communicative effort between healthcare professionals and the patient.

When a patient steps through the doors of a physicians office, there can be a sense of uncertainty, nervousness and trepidation. A physician has the responsibility of relaying sensitive information to a patient which can be likened to the passing of a torch. Once a doctor has conveyed strict instruction and detailed information about a potentially volatile condition, it is the patients duty to retain that information as well as take it seriously if they are to take care of their health responsibly. A failure in the passing of this torch is significant as a breakdown in communication can lead to a poorer health outcome for the patient and a potential issue of malpractice for the doctor. In order to get a message across, there needs to be an appreciation for what a patient can understand as well as a sense of empathy towards the patients anxieties in hearing this new and unfamiliar information. The premise of this assignment was to carry out a translation between two primary disciplines. As a designer, this assignment opened up an opportunity to attempt a project which would utilise my personal background as a biomedical scientist and form a unique practice.

This project addresses visual communication, health literacy, storytelling and design as a way to bridge gaps in communication between patients and health practitioners from a perspective of a designer who has experience as both a scientist and communication designer.

  • Artefacts

  • Select Bibliography

    1. Graham, S & Brookey, J 2008, ‘Do Patients Understand?’, Permanente Journal, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 67-69.

    2. Houts, P, Doak, C, Doak, L & Loscalzo, M 2006, ‘The role of pictures in improving health communication: A review of research on attention, comprehension, recall, and adherence.’, Patient Education and Counseling, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 173-190.

    3. Paulovich, B 2012, ‘Designing for Health Education: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Visual Communication’, viewed 19 August 2020, ResearchGate database.