Patient Stories May Improve Health
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Last week Phil came into the office and told me about something interesting he had heard on the radio on his way in – they had been discussing how patients are benefitting from watching videos telling the stories of people who had suffered from the same condition.
The fact that we have created videos that tell patients and carer stories – covering numerous subjects including mental health, cancer, diabetes and fertility treatment- got me thinking and I wanted to learn a bit more about the impact that they can then have once they leave our hands and go to the client.
So as any research tasks starts I googled it! I was pleasantly surprised when I immediately found an article in the New York Times on the subject – that had actually been published in 2011. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/10/health/views/10chen.html?_r=0) This mentioned that a trial that examined the effects of storytelling on patients with high blood pressure found that patients who received videos of similar patients telling stories about their own experiences had better blood pressure control at the end of the trial than the patients who received videos of more generic impersonal health announcements on the topic.
This got me thinking about why this would be the case.
When you have been told that you must change your ways to improve your health what would have a bigger effect on your behaviour? Would it be seeing an animation exercising and his frown turn to a smile? Would it be being bombarded by leaflets that tell you what you must do and what you absolutely cannot do? Would it be facts and figures that state if you do this then your health will improve by so much percent? Or would it be seeing real live people that have been in your situation before you and understand how you are feeling, that state many of your concerns as their own when they started on their journey to better health give you practical advice on how they have learnt to deal with the situation?
Seeing an image of someone who has been through your procedure, dealt with your lifestyle changes and has come through the other side, obviously has more impact than seeing a number on a page. Hearing someone tell their story to you about how they have overcome what you are facing, how they felt throughout, what you can expect in the future, real stories of the challenge you are facing, personal accounts of the situation you find yourself in can only be a comfort and an inspiration to people. To know that you are not alone, to be encouraged by the fact that here is someone telling you that they have done it would to me be more inspirational than reading about it.
Watching people and hearing their stories is a part of life and so it would seem an important part of health and recovery. It is not possible for everyone who is facing a health challenge to find someone in the same boat and listen to their story but creating a film that tells the story of one patient and sharing with many is something that can and does happen!
From Mocha’s point of view when filming a piece like this you see that people are willing to tell their story, they want to share their experiences in the hope that it will help others. We feel privileged to be in a position to help these people share their stories, and are often humbled by people’s ability to deal with what life throws at them.
What we sometimes lose sight of, and what this study confirms, is the positive impact these films can have on people as they overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. I think that we can feel proud that we are involved in that process.