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© 2024
Sarah Stern

Visually explaining palliative care

The Stratton Foundation

Health Communication Design
Thomas Jefferson University

Sarah’s role:
+ Creative direction
+ Typography
+ Illustration
+ Sketching 
+ Print design
+ Poster design
With a grant from the Stratton Foundation, Jeannette Kates piloted a telehealth program for chronic lung disease patients. Her goal was to initiate conversations about quality of life with patients well in advance of hospice and to align the actions of doctors, nurses, and caregivers. Sarah’s task was to convey this idea in a patient-facing poster.

Jeannette Kates, PhD, AGPCNP-BC, FPCN
Maribeth Kradel-Weitzel

1. Sourcing inspiration

Sarah gathered visual references that were potential methaphors for a patient considering palliative care.

A sunset and rolling green hills. Poster for the 2020 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts by Lanny Sommese.

The late Lanny Sommese created hopeful, whimsical posters including this 2020 poster for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. How might a sunset shape a color palette for palliative care? 

The back of a white man's head who is wearing a green uniform. The text says Adieu!

This poster from 1989 by Istvan Orosz prompted Sarah to think of patients looking forward to the future. What might they see?

2. Presenting visual directions

Sarah presented Jeannette with a series of sketches offering different directions for the poster. The bird imagery direction was the visual winner and we workshopped the copy to match.

Sketch of four people, two men and two women, all of an older age. They are facing towards views illuminated in different colors. Text says "the future is yours if you look ahead" and "advance planning helps you make decisions."
A sketch of a series of doors with one door open in the middle where lines of perspective draw your eye. The text reads "the choice is up to you. which door is yours?" and below "advance care planning via telehealth helps you make quality of life decisions with your entire care team."
Image is of birds in a V formation flying upwards through the words "lead your care team." Above reads "advance care planning via telehealth helps you take charge of quality of life."

3. Determining the correct medium

Attempts with entirely digital texture did not hold the same emotional resonance as watercolor.

An image of feet next to watercolor paints brushes and a series of small paintings on cardboard on the floor.

4. Integrating digital and analog

Birds flying together showed the team effort between patients and caregivers in palliative care. The italicized type indicated movement in a previously stuck process. The sunset symbolized a future that was both beautiful and transitory.


Platform: Cargo.site ︎
Fonts: Piazzolla Black, Monument Grotesk Semi-Mono Regular