Storytelling as a research tool used to explore insights and as an intervention in public health: A systematic narrative review


Objectives: Studies of storytelling (ST) used as a research tool to extract information and/or as an intervention to effect change in the public knowledge, attitudes, and behavior/practice (KAB/P) were sought and analyzed. Methods: Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, ERIC, Web of Science, Art and Humanities database, Scopus, and Google Scholar were searched, and a basic and broad quantitative analysis was performed, followed by an in-depth narrative synthesis of studies on carefully selected topics. Results: From this search, 3,077 studies were identified. 145 studies entered quantitative analysis [cancer and cancer screening (32/145), HIV (32/145), mental health (10/145), vaccination (8/145), and climate change (3/145)]. Ten studies entered final analysis [HIV/AIDs (5), climate change (1), sexual health (3), and croup (1)]. ST techniques included digital ST (DST), written ST, verbal ST, and use of professional writers. Of the ten studies, seven used ST to change KAB/P; the remainder used ST to extract insights. Follow-up and evaluation were very limited. Conclusion: ST reveals insights and serves as an intervention in public health. Benefits of ST largely outweigh the limitations, but more follow-up/evaluation is needed. ST should play a more significant role in tackling public health issues.


McCall B, Shallcross L, Wilson M, Fuller C, Hayward A




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Prevention
  • Prevention
    • Education/media campaigns
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


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