Documenting Medicine

  1. Elder abuse was first described in the literature in the1970’s as granny battering and is simply defined as any harmful act towards an older adult. Elder abuse encompasses several types of abuse including physical, emotional, sexual, financial, neglect, and self-neglect.

    It is estimated that 1 to 2 million older adults living in the United States are victims of elder mistreatment annually though only about 1 in 4 cases ever get reported to authorities. Elder abuse is associated with higher morbidity and mortality and is linked to increased utilization of emergency room services and increased rates of hospitalization. Elder abuse clearly exists in our society yet remains grossly under recognized and underreported. Let’s give our elderly victims a voice, let’s end the silence on elder abuse.

    In this piece, I share the story of Mr B.

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  2. Everyone knows that the Boomers are aging, and the older adult population is growing exponentially – that the 65 and up crowd will more than double by 2030, for example. Fewer people know that there are nowhere near enough geriatricians to care for them. Geriatricians are doctors specially trained in appreciating the full context of an elder's health and life circumstances, finding out what's important to them, and tailoring individualized plans of care with patients and families. Where should a non-geriatrician start? By talking with elders. For this photo-audio documentary project, I sat down with a delightful 84-year-old gentleman named Charlie at a retirement community in Durham, North Carolina, for a conversation about life. And Charlie taught this geriatrician a thing or two.
    - Dr. Maria D'Souza

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  3. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 13.7 million people with a history of cancer were alive in the United States in 2012. An additional 1.6 million people will be diagnosed in 2013. An estimated 1600 people die of cancer everyday. For those diagnosed, what was once a normal daily life focused on family, work or school is forever changed. Schedules are upended while attempting to incorporate rigorous and often time- consuming treatments. While the physical toll is frequently obvious at first glance, the emotional toll can be difficult to appreciate for even the most astute and compassionate clinician. This documentary aims to illuminate what life is like for the desperately ill patient, and in so doing lessens emotional burdens and feelings of isolation, on both sides of the stethoscope.

    - Erin O'Branski, PA-C (Oncology)

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  4. As a second year pediatric resident, I have seen a myriad of families endure the effects of childhood illness. Across the board, these families have developed a variety of impressive strategies to cope with their child’s illness. I wanted to investigate how parents find the strength to cope with childhood illness.

    One family in particular stood out to me. The son had been diagnosed with a rare hematological disorder and is currently awaiting a bone marrow transplant. He was incredibly sick, and yet his mother always maintained a patient and peaceful countenance. I took this opportunity to find out what, exactly, gave her such peace in the face of such adversity. I spoke with the mother about her experiences dealing with her son during his time of altered health. Quotes from our interview are accompanied by still photos of the family and areas of Duke Children’s Hospital and the Duke Children’s Health Center in which the family spent significant amounts of time during the course of their journey through diagnosis and treatment.
    - Dr. Amber Hathcock

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  5. Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Despite recommendations for colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 50, nearly 40% of Americans still do not obtain screening.  In this documentary, we tell the story of Patsy an energetic and loving 57-year-old colleague, wife, daughter, mother and grandmother who is determined to motivate others to obtain proper colorectal cancer screening. Patsy began experiencing symptoms in 2011 that were thought to be related to hemorrhoids. As a champion of her own health, she sought a second opinion. Recognizing that Patsy was overdue for colorectal cancer screening, her new primary care physician recommended a colonoscopy. She was diagnosed with colorectal cancer a few weeks later in February of 2012. The road to recovery after radiation, chemotherapy and colon surgery has been difficult but Patsy remained resilient with the support of her loving husband Mike, her mother, children, and colleagues. Now one year cancer-free, Patsy is relentless in sharing her own story and passionate about dispelling myths about colonoscopy. Patsy will not let her friends get away with excuses. She tells them,“I will go with you. I will hold your hand."

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Documenting Medicine

Liisa Ogburn Plus

Documenting Medicine is a program at Duke University which provides Duke physician residents and fellows with the tools and training to use documentary as a way to get to know and better understand patients and their families, as well as care-givers.…

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Documenting Medicine is a program at Duke University which provides Duke physician residents and fellows with the tools and training to use documentary as a way to get to know and better understand patients and their families, as well as care-givers. As part of this program, we host a monthly lecture by documentarians who have produced work in the medical world. For more information, visit:

This program is a partnership between the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke and the Graduate Medical Education Department at Duke. Pilot funding has been provided by the Chancellor's Innovation Fund. The Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities and the History of Medicine has sponsored several of the talks on this channel.

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