Photographs may improve patient healthcare in rural areas

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Patients who use ‘photo journeys’ shared more information about living with their condition.

In the digital era, more and more people use cameras to document their daily lives, with estimates suggesting 93 million selfies are taken worldwide each day. Now findings from a new study suggest that encouraging patients to document their day-to-day activities with a camera could provide important information.

As part of a small study, 10 participants with atrial fibrillation, at varying stages of health, were given digital cameras to create ‘photo journeys’. All of the individuals lived independently in towns with populations under 7,000 and were asked to take daily photos and post in a memory card every two weeks for six months.

The authors said the resulting pictures gave them access not only to the patient’s days, but also to things that would not generally be reported at the surgery or on medical charts. “You don’t always get the full story or picture of what is really going on in their lives. These photos gave us considerable information about the environmental context of living with an illness in rural communities, where there is limited access to services,” said author, Prof. Kathy Rush.

Rush is recommending that photo journeys be used more frequently for older, rural patients, regardless of their health condition.

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