…Until recently we've only been able to speculate about story's persuasive effects. But over the last several decades psychology has begun a serious study of how story affects the human mind. Results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by story. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence… 1
We know that stories shape entire societal belief systems–recall the effect of the "The War of the Worlds" radio drama adapted by Orson Welles in 1938 that gripped a nation and sent it spiraling into fear and frenzy. How powerful is a story?
A story holds promise for medicine, and health care in general. Why don't people exercise as they should or eat things that are good for them? It's not about the data–we've known exercise is good and cookies are bad for us, yet behavior change remains an elusive goal. It keeps heart surgeons and Twinkies in business. But hit someone in the gut with a story that touches their heart; for example, one about a mother who adores her children, but now sits on the sidelines in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank, watching them laugh and play, unable to walk for more than a few blocks because of complications from a lung surgery that might have been avoided altogether had he just stopped smoking and lost those twenty extra pounds…well, that tells a little more compelling story than cancer statistics ever could.
The Annals of Internal Medicine has published the results of a provocative new trial examining the effects of storytelling on patients with high blood pressure. And it appears that at least for one group of patients, listening to personal narratives helped control high blood pressure as effectively as the addition of more medications.
Our patient journeys are designed to achieve behavior change by telling a compelling story—a story that hits close to home. Coupled with education and coaching for how to enable change, our programs bring the patient to life. At times raw and very real, these stories elicit emotion from the learners—and make them active participants as we weave a tale of a future that could be avoided.
And there begins behavior change. Let us bring your patient stories to life.
1 Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal from "Why Storytelling Is The Ultimate Weapon". http://www.fastcocreate.com/1680581/why-storytelling-is-the-ultimate-weapon (accessed March 20, 2014)