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BMC Health Serv Res. 2016 Jul 11;16:249. doi: 10.1186/s12913-016-1474-7.

Designing and delivering facilitated storytelling interventions for chronic disease self-management: a scoping review.

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Ryerson University, School of Nutrition, 350 Victoria Street, Kerr Hall South, room 349-I, Toronto, ON, M5B 2 K3, Canada.
North York Family Health Team, 240 Duncan Mill Rd, Suite 707, Toronto, ON, M3B 3S6, Canada.
Humber River Family Health Team, 245 Dixon Road, Etobicoke, ON, M9P 2 M4, Canada.
Ryerson University, Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON, M5B 2 K3, Canada.



Little is known about how to develop and deliver storytelling as an intervention to support those managing chronic illnesses. This scoping review aims to describe the core elements of storytelling interventions in order to help facilitate its implementation.


A scoping review was conducted in seven databases for articles published up to May 2014 to identify interventions that describe in detail how storytelling was used to support people in disease self-management interventions.


Ten articles met all inclusion criteria. Core elements consistently observed across the storytelling interventions were: reflection and interactive meaning-making of experiences; principles of informality and spontaneity; non-directional and non-hierarchical facilitation; development of group norms and conduct to create a community among participants; and both an individual and collective role for participants. Differences were also observed across interventions, such as: the conceptual frameworks that directed the design of the intervention; the type and training of facilitators; intervention duration; and how session topics were selected and stories delivered. Furthermore, evaluation of the intervention and outcome assessment varied greatly across studies.


The use of storytelling can be a novel intervention to enhance chronic disease self-management. The core elements identified in the review inform the development of the intervention to be more patient-centred by guiding participants to take ownership of and lead the intervention, which differs significantly from traditional support groups. Storytelling has the potential to provide patients with a more active role in their health care by identifying their specific needs as well as gaps in knowledge and skills, while allowing them to form strong bonds with peers who share similar disease-related experiences. However, measures of impact differed across interventions given the variation in chronic conditions. Our findings can guide future development and implementations of storytelling interventions.


Chronic disease; Chronic illness; Group education; Health education; Narration; Narrative; Patient education; Patient self-management; Peer support; Self-care; Self-management; Storytelling

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