Search our site
Search our site

Books created by Kingston School of Art academic and graduate to help reduce childhood anxiety about medical procedures rolled out across hospitals in the UK

Posted Tuesday 5 September 2023

Books created by Kingston School of Art academic and graduate to help reduce childhood anxiety about medical procedures rolled out across hospitals in the UK

A collaboration between Kingston University associate professor of Illustration Animation Dr Jake Abrams and graduate Georgina Potier is transforming the experiences of seriously ill children across the UK by addressing anxiety around medical procedures.

The Get Better Books, created in close collaboration with clinicians, patients and psychologists, explain complex treatments and clinical procedures in an accessible and engaging way for a young audience. The innovative project, which encourages patients to learn while interacting with the books, has already helped more than 3500 children gaining industry recognition and awards, including the recently announced D&AD Pencil award 2023.

The idea for the first book in the series, My Kidney, originated when Kingston University graduate Georgina Potier realised hospital communication materials about the procedure were overly complex and intimidating for children. Ms Potier has first-hand experience of the feelings of anxiety that can come from a major operation after she underwent a kidney transplant as a child.Georgina Potier  and Jake Abrams Georgina Potier (left) and Jake Abrams (right) at Great Ormond Street Hospital

Together with her former tutor Dr Abrams, they conceived fun and quirky illustrations, which, with the assistance of Great Ormond Street Hospital, were turned into an interactive book. Friendly animal characters explain the procedure in a witty and light-hearted way, stimulating patients to engage in and learn about the whole process they will experience.

"Procedural anxiety can have a lifelong negative effect," Dr Abrams explained. "The books are a cost-effective intervention for hospitals, which works for children as well as parents and guardians in explaining what is going to happen to the patients."

After the success of the first book, the creative duo received requests to design interactive books for other departments. Once again, they collaborated with Great Ormond Street Hospital to devise a series of animations on how to communicate effectively with children and young people with learning disabilities.

The creative partners have also created a separate design for children aged between 14 and 18. Designed to look like a passport, it communicates invaluable information, focusing on compliance and the importance of regular medication intake. This addresses a specific concern of post-procedural medication intake among older children, with approximately 30% of transplant patients in this age group experiencing treatment failure due to discontinuing medication once they start to feel better.

"This project has become much larger than we could have ever imagined," Ms Potier said. "It is amazing to be able to give back and help young children that are going through such difficult journeys."

The diverse work has been recognised by medical and design professionals alike. With the support of Kidney Research UK, the Get Better Books have expanded their distribution to hospitals nationwide, with the illustrators adding bespoke designs to reflect each individual hospital and local area.

The design community has recognised this innovative approach to medical communication with a number of prestigious awards, including the HP Inkspiration Award and a D&AD Pencil Award in 2023. This recognition has opened new opportunities with Dr Abrams and Ms Potier commissioned to produce editions of the Get Better books specifically tailored for the German market. They are currently working on a new edition for healthcare providers in the United Arab Emirates.

Dr Abrams said he hoped the Get Better books project will expand in the future with further educational and entertaining projects aiming to transform medical communication for children of all ages. "As a University we can be proud of the impact of this work," Dr Abrams said. "In the department of Illustration and Animation, both academics and students aim to produce work that impacts lives. I'm very proud the Get Better Books may help to ease anxiety and create clarity for young people who already have a lot to deal with."

Contact us

General enquiries:

Journalists only:

  • Communications team
    Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3034
    Email us