Nicholas Ilic

On Representation in Medical Illustration 

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The issue of representation and diversity in media is increasingly common in public discourse, with each industry and branch of media, having its own concerns and considerations. In the field of medical illustration and healthcare communications, in which the majority of models depicted are young white men, a homogenous pool of references could contribute to various issues in the professional, academic, and public spheres. Be it a lack of awareness of disease variation depending on the demographic, or the potential disillusionment students may experience from lacking a broad perspective, the need for appropriate representation goes beyond matters of political correctness.   

The catalyst for this area of research was the prevalence of Lyme disease in the researcher’s home of Pennsylvania, and how the ubiquitous identifier of a ‘Bulls-eye’ rash was obscured on people with denser melanin. Being that an early diagnosis can drastically reduce harm, this raised the question of a practical impact that more inclusive representation can have. Additionally, this eluded to other circumstances where a similar issue of representation, both in the field of dermatology, and medicine as a whole. Be it skin tone, age, or gender, redressing the balance of representation can lead to genuine improvement in people’s health.  

Names of Supervisors: Alan Prescott, Caroline Erolin, Mick Peter