#CMSC16 – Hispanic MS Patients Featured in Film to Promote Health, Self-Care

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by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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A bicultural edutainment film, featuring Hispanic MS patients, was produced by researchers to improve health and self-care in this group.

The “Comprehensive Care in MS and Symptom Management” session at the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) 2016 Annual Meeting, included a different kind of contribution –  the presentation of a short film exposing the health challenges specific to Hispanic patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Intended to promote health and self-care in the Hispanic population, a group steadily on the rise in relation to MS, the patient-centered film provided culturally sensitive information that includes the interplay between immigration, culture, and health in Hispanic MS patients.

Earlier research had indicated that visual narratives might better address health issues in the Hispanic community than printed, or lecture-focused approaches, because of certain socio-economic conditions. Film also easily adapts to the sociocultural norms and values of specific groups of patients.

To provide easily accessible healthcare information and promote self-care for Hispanics living with MS, researchers from the University of Southern California developed the bicultural edutainment film featuring patients.

Research to support the film, “A Short Film Highlighting Multiple Sclerosis in Hispanic Lives: Fostering Cultural Sensitivity,” was done in collaboration with faculty from the Immigration Health Initiative and CTSI Community Engagement — a project bridging academic research, health policy, and community practice to improve public health. The project also included graduates from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the USC Hispanic MS Registry.

By interviewing individual Hispanic MS patients enrolled in the project from the MS registry, as well as conducting focus groups, the researchers obtained ideas for the theme of the film and its storyline. Each step of the production was discussed with the film committee.

The eight-minute short film, featuring five Hispanic MS patients and their families, is a fusion of documentary aspects and individual patient stories that include immigrant issues and common perceptions of MS.

The significance of cultural beliefs and myths about MS were revealed in the film particularly by the telling of the individual patient’s disease journeys. The stories were laced with a metaphoric narrative to highlight the impact of having an MS diagnosis. The film also focuses on how cultural strengths can improve coping with the disease, and underscores how culture can help successfully managing it.

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