Digital storytelling is defined by the Center for Digital Storytelling, in Berkeley, Calif., as "short, first person video-narratives created by combining recorded voice, still and moving images, music or other sounds." I was first introduced to the concept at the Oncology Connections Conference this fall and once you hear about something, it seems to pop up everywhere!
At Connections, Dr. Emily Haozous, assistant professor at the University of New Mexico College of Nursing, is using digital storytelling in a study to deliver culturally congruent cancer screening education to Native American women. She describes digital storytelling as calling upon an ancient way of knowing, which is central to the group she is both studying and serving.
She herself created a moving example to share with the audience about her own family's experience with cancer with one of their members and incorporated (with somewhat critical results) an educational segment on some screening guidelines for cancer while she had a captive audience engaged in her story.
Haozous and her study are not alone. A web search finds a similar project for women with breast cancer in Australia, for Native American adults with cancer in Alaska, for people with colon cancer in California, and for African American women with breast cancer in Washington. When you peruse some of the sites you find words like transformational, positive change, and affirming.
While not quite as technologically advanced, the recreation therapist on our unit assists patients in making books of their journeys with text, photos, and decorations of their choosing. Patients are often proud of their books and share them with the nursing staff. Each time I have had the opportunity to see one, I have been impressed by how much better of a sense I have gotten for the patient and his/her values, hopes, and dreams.
Have you had any personal experiences with digital storytelling for yourself or for your patients? Does your workplace provide a similar option for patients/families to chronicle their journey?