Of Seals and Humans. Media and scientific discourses about a caregiving medical device.

Open Access
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Conference Proceedings
Authors: Juliette CharbonneauxKarine Berthelot Guiet

Abstract: The approach we propose is developed within an integrated cancer research site or Siric CURAMUS (Cancer United Research Associating Medicine, University & Society) linked to the Groupe Hospitalier Pitié Salpêtrière - Sorbonne University. The eight Sirics accredited in France by the Institut du Cancer have the mission of optimizing and accelerating the production of new knowledge and promoting its dissemination and application in the treatment of cancer through integrated and translational multidisciplinary research programs. CURAMUS has three integrated research programs (neuro-oncology, rare immuno-hematological cancers, microsatellite instability cancers) linked to a cross-cutting program in human and social sciences whose objectives are to achieve multidisciplinary assessments, between technical expertise and patient preferences, and issues of ethics, equity, particularly in access to care.This paper aims to analyze the representations of mediation and assistance within the framework of cognitive deficits and/or accompaniment of cancer patients, through communication and mediatization around an animal-shaped technical communicating device: the stuffed seal Paro, an emotional robot for therapeutic assistance. Paro was originally developed in Japan in 2005. According to the french website dedicated to it, « Paro aims to offer health professionals an easy-to-use, high-tech tool to convey the benefits of animal therapy to people with behavioral and communication disorders (Alzheimer's patients and related disorders), or with motor and sensory deficiencies, by improving their well-being and quality of life in a non-medicated setting » .With this case study, the paper aims to explore the following research questions : What are the imaginary and presence of animal mediation in this specific medical context ? Which imaginary and presence of the power of technical mediation devices are conveyed with the use of Paro? What are the representations of communication, within the framework of medical caregiving, peddled by this device and its uses?These issues will be addressed using a composite methodology, combining semi-structured interviews with caregivers already using the seal, clinical staff members of CURAMUS about possibles uses of Paro in the context rare neurological and hematological cancers and semio-communicational analysis (content and discourse analysis) of a specific corpus. This corpus will include the following items : the french Paro website, international and specifically French press review about the Paro device and Web pages dedicated to Paro on French institutional websites about cancer (The Ligue contre le cancer for example). The purpose of this research is to encourage translational perspectives through the analysis of current uses in the French health system and the explorations of possible of use within the Siric CURAMUS clinical teams and hospital facilities.

Keywords: Communication, Media, Health

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003485

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