Cultural Contexts of Health: The Use of Narrative Research in the Health Sector
Narrative (storytelling) is an essential tool for reporting and illuminating the cultural contexts of health – that is, the practices and behaviour that groups of people share and which are defined by customs, language and geography. This report reviews the literature on narrative research, offers some quality criteria for appraising such research and gives three detailed worked case examples: diet and nutrition, well-being, and mental health in refugees and asylum seekers. Storytelling (and story interpretation) belongs to the humanistic disciplines and is 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.