Health Evidence Network Synthesis Report Series 49

Cultural Contexts of Health

The Use of Narrative Research in the Health Sector

October 2016
More details
  • Publisher
    World Health Organization
  • Published
    24th October 2016
  • ISBN 9789289051682
  • Language English
  • Pages 62 pp.
  • Size 5.5" x 8.25"

Storytelling is an essential tool for reporting and illuminating the cultural contexts of health: the practices and behavior 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 rigor 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.