Staging data: theatre as a tool for analysis and knowledge transfer in health research

Soc Sci Med. 2008 Jan;66(1):130-46. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.07.021. Epub 2007 Sep 11.


Over the past several decades, researchers have taken an interest in theatre as a unique method of analysing data and translating findings. Because of its ability to communicate research findings in an emotive and embodied manner, theatre holds particular potential for health research, which often engages complex questions of the human condition. In order to evaluate the research potential of theatre, this article critically examines examples of evaluated health research studies that have used theatre for the purposes of data analysis or translation. We examine these studies from two perspectives. First, the literature is divided and categorized into four theatre genres: (1) non-theatrical performances; (2) ethnodramas, which can be interactive or non-interactive; (3) theatrical research-based performances; and (4) fictional theatrical performances. This categorization highlights the importance of these genres of theatre and provides an analysis of the benefits and disadvantages of each, thus providing insight into how theatre may be most effectively utilized in health research. Second, we explore the efficacy of using theatre for the purposes of data analysis and knowledge transfer, and critically examine potential approaches to the evaluation of such endeavours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drama*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Literature, Modern*
  • Public Health*
  • Research Design*