Background “Rheumatism amongst young people, is that really a thing?” “Isn't rheumatism something that only old people have?” “You seem so happy and so active, surely you can't be in pain?” These are all questions that young people with rheumatism have to listen to, and answer every day.
Yes, it's possible to have rheumatism even as a young person, and to be in pain, even though we're not letting it show. We know adjustment is possible, and that we can live our life to the fullest and follow our dreams, despite rheumatism. But sometimes it demands some extra understanding from the people around us. That's what we wanted to recognize, and created a campaign together with AbbVie.
Objectives It can be hard to understand and fully grasp something you can't see, something that is invisible. But as young people with rheumatism, we have to live and deal with our swollen joints, with the pain and the fatigue, and with the side effects of our medication. None of which should be questioned.
We recognized that this was an issue for most people with rheumatism, and especially young people. Therefore, we wanted to start a conversation about how it is to go through life with an invisible disability.
The main purpose with our campaign was to acknowledge the fact that you can't always tell whether or not a person has a diagnosis, or is in pain. We also wanted to show young people with rheumatism that they are not alone in their situation.
Methods We searched for young people with rheumatism in different ages and with different diagnoses. Each person in the campaign is presented in two different photos. One standard full-portrait photo in front of a white background, just showing who they are. One person held a basketball to show off her love for the sport, another one was wearing her dancing shoes and so on. The other photo is instead set in a complete dark room, with the person posing in the same way but this time with their rheumatism-affected areas lit up. We used glow in the dark-body paint and a UV-light to create this effect.
Each pair of photos is put together with the person's story about their passion in life and what it's like to live and deal with an invisible disability.
The campaign was released on October 12th 2016, on World Arthritis Day, with an event at Astrid Lindgren's children's hospital in Stockholm. The photos were printed and presented on large boards together with the personal stories.
The first photo of the campaign, a group photo of everyone participating, was also posted on our social media on October 12th and then one pair of photos was posted every day during the following week. People were also told to share their own stories under the hashtag #synsintefinnsinte
Results The campaign ended up being our organization's most successful campaign to this date. The spread was especially great on Facebook, with the first post reaching nearly 50'000 people and the other posts reaching between 3'500 and 25'000 people every day. The campaign had more likes and shares on both Facebook and Instagram than any of our other campaigns has had so far.
The opportunity to show the photos at Astrid Lindgren's children's hospital also brought health care into the campaign and attracted great attention on site.
The photos combined with the personal stories make a powerful statement. We managed to show young people with rheumatism that they are not alone in their situation, and we look forward to the conversation continuing on at #synsintefinnsinte
Disclosure of Interest None declared