Cultural contexts of health: the use of narrative research in the health sector (2016)




By: Trisha Greenhalgh
Health Evidence Network synthesis report 49
2016, viii + 54 pages
ISBN 978 92 890 5168 2

Storytelling is an essential tool for reporting and illuminating the cultural contexts of health: the practices and behaviour that groups of people share and that are defined by customs, language and geography. This report reviews the literature on narrative research, offers some quality criteria for appraising it and gives three detailed case examples: diet and nutrition, well-being and mental health in refugees and asylum seekers.

Storytelling and story interpretation belong to the humanistic disciplines and are not a pure science, although established techniques of social science can be applied to ensure rigour in sampling and data analysis. The case studies illustrate how narrative research can convey the individual experience of illness and well-being, thereby complementing and sometimes challenging epidemiological and public health evidence.