Story-in-Place, April 11, 2020

Story-in-Place is a workshop to give healthcare providers a forum tell their stories during the COVID-19 crisis. The session will be online on April 11, 2020 at 2pm Pacific. Registration is free.

We’re living through a crisis and a profound shared experience. Healthcare providers and related fields are on the front lines. One of the ways that our connected world is dealing with the COVID-19 emergency is by seeking out, telling, and sharing stories.

If you’re a healthcare provider or work in a healthcare-adjacent profession, please join us. Maybe you want a space to share your story, or maybe you want a way to help process what’s going on.

In this workshop, we’ll briefly go over some fundamental elements of storytelling. Everyone will have a chance to reflect on their own stories and experiences from recent weeks. Those who would like to are invited to work through their own narratives with support from the other participants.

Thursday Review: “The Effect of Physician Behavior on the Collection of Data”

I love patient stories, and know how important they are to good care. The fact remains that patients are usually going to tell stories… badly. Physicians and other providers need to let them tell those ineffective stories, and be prepared for it.

Dr. Howard B. Beckman and Dr. Richard M. Frankel wrote an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine on how physicians’ verbal cues influence how and how much medical information is collected.

Beckman and Frankel help us realize how much control providers have over the patient encounter, and why narrative competence is so important.
Continue Reading “Thursday Review: “The Effect of Physician Behavior on the Collection of Data””

Thursday Review: “Performing Narrative Medicine”

I was initially interested in Kristin M. Langellier’s article because of the idea of performance. The main project of my work in medical storytelling has been to take the ideas bound up in Narrative Medicine and apply them to face-to-face interaction. With Narrative Medicine, my concern has always been that narrative skills are often parallel to, and not a part of, clinical practice.

Continue Reading “Thursday Review: “Performing Narrative Medicine””

Thursday Review: “Narrative Medicine and Decision-Making Capacity”

Greg Mahr’s article on using Narrative Medicine to evaluate the medical decision-making capacity of patients is a wonderful case study in the implementation of the medical humanities. Appearing in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, the paper contains frequent, concise insights into the goals and possibilities of Narrative Medicine.

The article is well-written and presents the traditional model of assessing patients’ abilities, the issues inherent in it, Narrative Medicine’s viewpoint, and an alternative, narrative decision-making assessment. (The presentation is very much like a story!) Mahr says, and I agree, that Narrative medicine has been an effective and powerful tool in reshaping medical practice. It’s odd, then, that when contrasting the outcomes of the “traditional” assessment and the “narrative” assessment, narrative assessments should arrive at the same conclusions as traditional assessments, but without the ethical and philosophical difficulties embedded within the traditional assessment.

Continue Reading “Thursday Review: “Narrative Medicine and Decision-Making Capacity””

Thursday Review: “Forming a Story: The Health Benefits of Narrative”

Telling a story is good for your health

In the Journal of Clinical Psychology, James W. Pennebaker and Janel D. Seagal study a group of students instructed to write about a traumatic experience, and then measure both the mental and physical health outcomes of those students. The results were measured against a control group, who were instructed to write strictly descriptive passages.

The participants who wrote about a traumatic experience recorded significantly fewer visits to a doctor in the months following the exercises.

The authors also review studies across a wide range of demographic groups which reveal that similar exercises produce positive effects on blood markers of immune function, are associated with lower pain and medication use, are linked to higher grades in college, and are even associated with faster times to getting new jobs among senior-level engineers.
Continue Reading “Thursday Review: “Forming a Story: The Health Benefits of Narrative””