Giving people living with a health condition a voice is a key part of our day-to-day work at emotive. Using their stories to change perception, inform understanding and shape clinical practice is critical to making lives better. One of our areas of expertise in highlighting patient perspectives is through filmed interviews.
These interviews with patients are used in disease awareness programmes and for healthcare professional education, through e-learning, websites, interactive symposia and standalone educational meetings.
Now, more than ever, with the future of physical touchpoints uncertain, it’s important to give people a voice that can be shared – creating something that is as impactful as if the person was right there talking to you. In this article, we look at how plenty of preparation, good communication and expert interviewing skills can ensure that those involved have a positive experience and that real stories are captured effectively.
We spoke to Aaron, our Senior Medical Copywriter, to hear his top tips on carrying out successful interviews with patients.
“With our commitment to helping as many people as possible receive life-changing therapies, we spend a lot of time talking to and learning from people with a variety of health conditions. These conditions can range from acute illnesses to end-of-life care, all of which may be difficult for the person, their family and caregivers to discuss openly in an interview setting. This conversation can be even more overwhelming with cameras, lights and a production crew in the room… so how do we manage it?”
- Read up on patient information alongside scientific literature. Learning how information about the condition is communicated to patients, through charities or support organisations, is vital. It will give you an idea of how complex information, such as the pathophysiology of the disease, is simplified and explained, so you know how to pitch any of the more ‘scientific’ questions you may have.
- Remember your interviewee is more often the expert on their condition, particularly if they have a rare disease or are the parent of a child with a rare condition. Even when they may not be knowledgeable about the science, your interviewee will have valuable insights that you won’t find elsewhere.
- Questions need to be approved ahead of filming, so allow plenty of time for this and provide an opportunity for the interviewee to give feedback or request changes.
- Ensure the interviewee can read the final questions ahead of time, ideally a week before the interview date, so that they can prepare.
- Ensure you introduce yourself and your team to the interviewee and those in attendance with them. This includes introducing members of the film crew who will remain on set during your interview.
- Focus on putting the interviewee at ease. It’s important to build a rapport with the interviewee and any family members or caregivers who may be taking part in the interview. Introduce yourself and your role, and spend time getting to know them during set-up as you take them through the day’s schedule.
- Be mindful of the environment you are in. Depending on the health of the person you’re working with, you may be carrying out the interview at their home or care facility. Try to minimise your crew’s footprint and impact on others who may be around, e.g. nurses, visitors, family members. If you move any items to set up the room, make sure you put them back exactly as you found them.
- Be sensitive with your questions. Whilst it’s important to discuss the interviewee’s quality of life and the impact of the disease on their wellbeing, there are some topics that you may wish to take their lead on or ask open questions about – think ‘Can you describe how the condition has had an impact on what you can do day-to-day?’, rather than overtly asking about something you know they may find difficult to do. Use your common sense, and consider what questions you would find appropriate to be asked. If in doubt, sit down as a project team and review your questions together.
- Some people are natural in front of the camera; others may be very nervous and will need to repeat answers several times or need more time to get something right – so keep your on-site schedule flexible. You also can’t guarantee how your interviewee may be feeling on the day of the interview.
- Build your schedule with a ‘buffer’ to accommodate breaks between filming. These often fit best if you’re filming in different locations or require different shots, and your film crew need to set-up.
- If an interviewee finds a particular question tricky, try a few times, then move on. Sometimes you don’t get everything you’d planned to, and that’s ok. You don’t want to cause any unnecessary stress to your interviewee.
- Don’t worry about being moved by difficult conversations. Your interview is naturally going to cover sensitive topics that may be emotional for both you and your interviewee. It’s okay to feel upset by these, and neither of you should feel embarrassed or dismayed by this. It’s not unprofessional to be human!
- Following the interview, follow-up with an email or phone call, thanking your interviewee and others involved for their participation.
- Check with your client, but you may also be able to share the final cut of the footage with your interviewee and those who participated alongside them (and, possibly other examples of how it has been used).
- Above all, you should share with them the wider outcomes of the project – how their story has contributed to a programme that will ultimately help others with their condition. After all, that’s why most people living with rare diseases agree to be part of such a project!
At emotive, we have a simple vision of changing lives by helping those who are unwell to access new and amazing treatments that can make them better.
We use our strategic scientific, creative and technical expertise to find innovative ways to bring the patients stories to life, to inspire engagement with HCPs and other stakeholders in the care pathway. If you would like to hear more information on how we’ve done this for some of our clients to transform their communication activities, please email Anjani Patel at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to find out more about joining emotive, please contact Jade on Jade@thinkemotive.com