Introducing Vivian!

We are very pleased to introduce Vivian to you. She’s the title character in our new graphic novel of the same name: Vivian. A work of fiction, she nevertheless embodies themes related to gender and palliative care that you can read about in our paper, Gender and Palliative Care, a Call to Arms, just published in Palliative Care and Social Practice.

Vivian represents a journey that started at the 2019 European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC) in Berlin where Merryn gave a keynote on gender and palliative care. From that first presentation Vivian has evolved in collaboration with award-winning graphic designer Dr Tatiana Tavares from AUT University, Auckland.

Why is Vivian important?

Gender has pretty much been invisible in palliative care, and this is concerning. Merryn writes in Vivian’s introduction:

The result of constructing research participants, and research concerns, as gender neutral is that a male worldview has been uncritically normalised and perpetuated. I was unaware of quite how pervasive this trend was until I started to scope the literature where I found evidence of male bias throughout the whole continuum of research from ‘bench to bedside’ with negative implications for us all, whatever our gender identity.

Vivian’s story serves as a graphic (pun intended) reminder of what’s at stake when gender is ignored. Women suffer – and men too, as they’ve also been constructed in unhealthy ways that affect their palliative care outcomes.

We’ll be evaluating Vivian – and, she’s going to Sweden

In collaboration with colleagues overseas, we will be evaluating Vivian’s usefulness as a teaching tool for nursing students and health professionals. If you are interested in being part of this evaluation, please be in touch. In related news, we’re very excited that Carina Werkander (Associate Professor in Caring Services, Center for Collaborative Palliative Care, Department of Health and Caring Sciences at Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden) has translated Vivian into Swedish and will be using the graphic novel in the University’s undergraduate nursing curriculum. You can’t get much cooler than that.

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