DVDs – Patient Organisations Using Video material

Patient Organisations Sending DVDs to Support Patients

In the age of video-streaming services like Netflix, and the disappearance of CD/DVD drives from computers, some may consider the DVD a declining format. However, most people still own devices that can play DVDs, and they can still be a powerful format for supporting patients.

In follow-up to our recent blog on patient groups using printed materials to support individuals, (read here>>), we look at examples of patient organisations sending DVDs.

Why DVDs?

Most patient group websites carry some video content, so why go to the expense of creating and distributing DVDs for patients and carers?

There are some key benefits to sending DVDs to individuals:

  • It is possible to use large, longer, video files for complex subjects, in contrast to potentially high bandwidth costs for the group, or slow connectivity at either end.
  • Downloading video may be expensive for individuals, particularly on mobile data plans.
  • DVDs are easy for patients to dip in and out of, and navigate in a way right for them.
  • DVDs often have a high perceived value, and the packaging can reinforce the person’s understanding of what the patient group offers.
  • Picture and sound quality can be superior to some internet connections, and viewed full screen.
  • It is familiar technology for most people, and more associated with TV than computing.
  • It is easier to support multiple languages, whether voiced in the new language, or subtitled.

In addition, some patient groups use DVDs as:

  • An additional revenue stream, offering paid series of DVDs
  • A way of building a direct connection with an individual patient, sending the DVD to their home address.
Lung Foundation Australia

The charity Lung Foundation Australia offers video material both through its website, and on DVD. For example, the group showcases its video on lung cancer on its website. 

From here, patients can:

  • Read a clear introduction covering what the DVD is about, and that its aim is to help people diagnosed with cancer make sense of what is happening, and what other patients have experienced.
  • Play any of the 19 chapters of the DVD, covering the lung cancer journey from diagnosis, through treatment options to life after treatment.
  • Identify which other 12 languages the English DVD is translated into.

When you click to order the free DVD, the order form suggests related resources to order, including a DVD targeted at raising awareness of lung cancer in Aboriginal communities.

Using DVDs to share the patient experience

DVDs tend to be better on the spoken word and emotions, rather than dense graphics and detail. They are a powerful way for patients to share their experiences and stories. 

For example, the UK patient charity, the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust profiles one of its DVDs on its home page. The profile of the DVD, “Christine’s story: Living with Advanced Thyroid Cancer”, includes a 5-minute trailer, which you can view either on their site, or through the charity’s YouTube channel.  

Patient stories are often a key part of patient group DVDs aimed at newly-diagnosed patients. It’s important at this early stage to reassure and address fears, but also “tell it how it is” from the perspective of real patients, in plain direct language, and break down isolation. 

The patient charity Lupus UK produces a “DVD for newly diagnosed patients”. Like many introductory DVD from patient groups, it combines essential medical information about the condition, with the individual stories of carers and patients.

One of the contributing patients, Rob Juson summarises it like this:

“Sometimes, if you’re sharing what you are going through with others that understand, in some ways it revitalises you. Because no matter how close your family are – and I think mine love me dearly – they can’t understand what’s going on inside me. But other lupus patients can” – Rob Juson, Lupus patient, speaking on the Lupus UK DVD “DVD for the newly diagnosed patient.

Stuttering Foundation of America

This charity offers a range of ways to access video material:

  • DVDs for sale in a resources library
  • Free videos online
  • An instant-streaming library, where a user can “purchase once, and own forever”

This mix of channels, and repurposing of video content offers a lot of flexibility. The new streaming service, and the fact that “our complete video library is now online” is very prominent on the home page. Also, the tab for the “Streaming video library” is given a lot of emphasis on the screen.

Some of the video content is also available at the charity’s YouTube channel. Like the main site, most of the content is divided by target audience, for example, playlists for parents, professionals, teens, and kids.  

As broadband speeds and reliability continue to improve in many countries, it seems likely that more patient group video content will migrate from DVD to online streaming. In the meantime, offering both choices seems to be the route for some patient groups.


See an example of how the Lung Foundation Australia showcase their DVD content…

Click here

See an example of how the UK Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust introduce their DVD on the experience of one patient…

Click here

See how the charity Lupus UK uses a DVD to support newly diagnosed patient…

Click here

Find out more about the video content available to stream from the US charity, the Stuttering Foundation…

Click here

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