Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The power of digital storytelling on childhood cancer patients

Waterloo: It is an ancient art that, in this digital age of computers, cameras and cellphones, takes on an entirely new and compelling form — the art of telling stories. And while a component of weaving a tale has often included some element of learning, a new study conducted by Catherine Laing, assistant nursing professor, will hopefully take it a bit further. Laing will look at the therapeutic value of digital storytelling on young people affected by cancer and on the health-care professionals who care for them.
“Although there is widespread anecdotal evidence about the benefits of digital storytelling, to the best of my knowledge, there is no research about its efficacy or therapeutic value — especially in childhood cancer patients and survivors,” Laing says. “This study will answer that.”

Movies that move

Digital stories are mini movies — short, first-person video-narratives created with a combination of recorded voice, photography, video, music and poetry. With a trained digital storytelling facilitator, study participants will use some or all of these methods to explain what it is, or was like to have cancer. Their voice will narrate the story while the video plays. Laing will interview them to learn about their experiences in producing their story and then present the digital stories to health-care providers, who will be interviewed about their experiences as viewers.
Long-term plans for the project include creating a website for pediatric oncology professionals, showcasing the digital stories, to help inform their clinical practice. Study findings will also be used to develop future programs and services for this population.
Funded by the Kids Cancer Care Chair in Pediatric Oncology Research Fund, an endowed fund at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, the study is recruiting a minimum of 15 Albertans ages eight to 30, who have or have had childhood cancer. Learn more about the study.