The art and science of patient storytelling-harnessing narrative communication for behavioral interventions: the ACCE project

J Health Commun. 2011 Aug;16(7):686-97. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2011.551997. Epub 2011 May 24.


Narrative communication is an emerging form of persuasive communication used in health education to solicit actual patient stories. Eliciting a narrative is an open-ended process and may or may not map to desired intervention objectives or underlying behavioral constructs. In addition, incorporating actual, unscripted narratives into multimedia interventions is challenging. The authors evaluated a protocol of editing narratives for a multimedia intervention to promote smoking cessation in the African American community that maintains fidelity to the original message and was related to behavioral constructs from social cognitive theory. The authors used four steps: (a) narrative collection (videotaping), (b) narrative review (rating of content), (c) narrative editing (documentary style), and (d) pilot testing (usability and assessment of transportation). The authors videotaped 50 personal smoking cessation narratives. After coding for presence of theoretical constructs, perceived risks of smoking (present in 53% of narratives) was the most common related behavioral construct. Four narratives were chosen for inclusion in the DVD. Pilot testing showed viewers reported high level of transportation into the narrative. The authors found that some behavioral constructs were rare and difficult to solicit in this population but that the final product was engaging to the viewers. Lessons learned may be useful for other video-based behavioral interventions that incorporate personal narratives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Black or African American
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimedia
  • Narration*
  • Patient Care / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • United States
  • Videotape Recording