Educational art exhibit shows promise in improving public’s knowledge about menopausal

Concept art from Janet S. Carpenter's

An educational art exhibit created by an Indiana University School of Nursing expert at IUPUI has been shown to positively affect people’s knowledge about menopausal hot flashes and increase empathy for women affected by them, according to three papers published in the peer-reviewed Menopause: Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

Janet S. Carpenter, associate dean for research, created “Hot Flashes? Cool!” to refute myths, provide accurate and culturally appropriate information, prevent use of unproven treatments, and spur dialogue about hot flashes. The exhibit comprises multiple pieces of two- and three-dimensional art, music, and film. One 3D exhibit piece uses flowers and dress form mannequins to show where women in different cultures feel hot flashes on their body.

Janet S. Carpenter

Janet S. Carpenter

“In Bangladesh, women feel them on the top of their head because their headscarves trap body heat. In the United States, women feel them on their face and chest. In Mexico, women feel them as sticky sweat on the back of their neck,” Carpenter said. “The flowers symbolize the naturalness of hot flashes and also connote blooming and blossoming at menopause, which is a very positive message.”

Concept art for the exhibit, including graphics and miniature models, was shown to focus groups and the general public.

“These audiences’ reactions to the concept art were very positive, with participants noting that the exhibit was appealing and stimulated learning about menopausal hot flashes,” Carpenter said. “These findings provide support for building the ‘Hot Flashes? Cool!’ exhibit full-scale as a traveling educational resource that might change public discourse around menopausal hot flashes.”

Concept art and graphics from the exhibit are scheduled to be shown at the Colloquium for Women of IU, taking place Oct. 24-26 in Bloomington, Indiana, and at the South Dakota State University College of Nursing in Brookings, South Dakota, in March 2020.

Carpenter worked with the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office to copyright descriptions of exhibit pieces and to trademark the exhibit’s logo. Videos of Carpenter speaking about “Hot Flashes? Cool!” are online.

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