Academic journal article The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health

Movie Coma Victims Unrealistic

Academic journal article The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health

Movie Coma Victims Unrealistic

Article excerpt

GLOBAL HEALTH

Coma patients are too often misrepresented in films as perfectly-groomed, 'Sleeping Beauties', according to a recent study in Neurology.

Dr Eelco Wijdicks reviewed 30 films made between 1970 and 2004 for his research, and found that only two films -'Dream Life of Angels' and 'Reversal of Fortune' - gave a reasonably accurate depiction of comatose patients. He argued that this failing could skew the way that people perceive and deal with comas in real life.

As part of the study, film scenes portraying patients in prolonged comas were assessed in terms of their appearance, the complexity of care, accurate cause of coma and probability of awakening, and appropriate compassionate discussion between the physician and family members.

Dr Wijdicks then showed some of these scenes to 72 people with no medical training and found that more than one in three were unable to pick up on important inaccuracies.

For example, 31 % of people shown a scene in which a comatose person tapped out a message with his finger in morse code believed that this could happen in real life, even though it was played out for comic effect within the film. …

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