Drawing Out

DrawingOut Invisible Diseases uses step-by-step metaphor-based drawing exercises to help people express and share their thoughts and feelings about their condition.

A growing body of literature has explored the potential for arts-based methods to generate and disseminate research, particularly on sensitive or complex topics. In this project we developed DrawingOut, a metaphor-centred drawing workshop designed to collect visual and textual data about individuals’ experiences of invisible, sensitive, or taboo health experiences. The visual data, consisting of the artwork produced by participants, and the textual data, all conversations and discussions occurring during the workshop, can also be used to co-produce engaging outputs for dissemination.

We piloted DrawingOut in a study of nine women with a minority ethnic or religious background in Cardiff, UK. The women were invited to participate in a series of structured drawing activities. The conversations occurring during the workshop were recorded and then subjected to thematic analysis. Results showed that women’s views and experiences could be grouped in eight major themes covering their wellbeing, relationship with others, and healthcare views and experiences. We produced an A5 16-page booklet that presents the pilot study results, illustrated with participants’ own drawings and quotes, which was disseminated among participants, their community and other relevant stakeholders. This pilot study supports the view that healthcare actors can use the DrawingOut method to engage people to talk about sensitive health topics, while simultaneously providing them with an enjoyable and empowering research experience.

To make the DrawingOut method available for everyone to use, the DrawingOut Invisible Diseases website offers detailed guidance for anyone who would like to use it individually or run their own drawing workshops. In the website galleries, you can find some of the artwork produced by patients, as well as links to information and support.

Resources produced by the Drawing Out project

Project Team

  • Dr Sofia Gameiro

    Cardiff University School of Psychology
  • Dr Elisabeth El Refai

    Cardiff School of English, Communication and Philosophy