Saturday, December 24, 2016

Using yourself as a prop for a speech

Patricia J. Martens was director of the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) from 2004 to 2014. She died on January 10, 2015 from mesothelioma (asbestos lung cancer). A magazine article about her titled Researcher Patricia Martens Turned Dry Data into Stories appeared in the February 2015 issue of Healthcare Policy, Vol. 10, No. 3, pages 10 to 13. I found it in a search at PMC. It describes some of her presentation poses:

“....Most memorable, however, was her trademark ‘squish and shift’ gesture, in which she clasped her hands and raised her arms to form a triangle. She used this gesture to help audiences understand the significance of changing the position and shape of a bell curve representing the distribution of a particular health or social indicator in a population.

If the whole curve could be shifted in a positive direction (she would maintain the triangle proportions but shift her arms to the side) the overall population health gains could be significant, but the gap between the least and most healthy (the tails of the curve) would remain the same. Next, she would demonstrate the ‘squish’ (she would bring her elbows closer together) to explain the importance of a targeted effort to reduce inequality by improving the condition of those who were least healthy.”

Patricia also used another simple prop:

“She would distribute licorice sticks, for example, to help non-statisticians grasp the significance of the Lorenz curve, a graphical representation of income-related inequality. The more the curve sags, the greater the inequality. Dr. Martens would have audience members bend their licorice to mirror the curve on the slide of a graph she projected – a curve that revealed, in one instance, that rates of suicide (and suicide attempts) in Manitoba were much higher for people in the 20-per-cent-lowest-income category. This curve, she noted, suggested the need for targeted interventions. In contrast, an almost-straight line on another graph revealed that among people over 55, dementia affects all income groups in Manitoba almost equally, suggesting the need for universal interventions.”

Patricia wrote a long magazine article about The Right Kind of Evidence - Integrating, Measuring, and Making It Count in Health Equity Research in the Journal of Urban Health, December 2012, Vol. 89, No. 6, pages 925 to 936.

A yoga pose came from Openclipart, and the rainbow licorice sticks came from Wikimedia Commons.

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