Measuring Down: Evaluating Digital Storytelling as a Process for Narrative Health Promotion

Qual Health Res. 2016 Nov;26(13):1787-1801. doi: 10.1177/1049732316649353. Epub 2016 Jul 9.


Digital storytelling (DST) engages participants in a group-based process to create and share narrative accounts of life events. We present key evaluation findings of a 2-year, mixed-methods study that focused on effects of participating in the DST process on young Puerto Rican Latina's self-esteem, social support, empowerment, and sexual attitudes and behaviors. Quantitative results did not show significant changes in the expected outcomes. However, in our qualitative findings we identified several ways in which the DST made positive, health-bearing effects. We argue for the importance of "measuring down" to reflect the locally grounded, felt experiences of participants who engage in the process, as current quantitative scales do not "measure up" to accurately capture these effects. We end by suggesting the need to develop mixed-methods, culturally relevant, and sensitive evaluation tools that prioritize process effects as they inform intervention and health promotion.

Keywords: New England; adolescents; agency; community and public health; empowerment; female; health; health promotion; marginalized or vulnerable populations; methodology; parenting; participatory visual research; power; pregnancy; research evaluation; sexuality; social support; technology; use in research; young adults; youth.