Story telling has been an important part of life and education since ages. For almost every occasion and situation, there is a story that one can relate to. In the healthcare industry too, success stories, patient experiences and discussion of cases with similar concerns prove to be useful in catching attention of those involved.
When it comes to listening to a story, all characters, their situations, the issues and the way they go about dealing with those issues is the most interesting part. And the crux of the story, which is simply termed as the moral of the story, gives out a learning message to the audience. When used in a healthcare setting, patient stories can be quickly related to by other patients and unknowingly trigger a natural learning process.
Patient stories are the experiences narrated by patients that flow like an interesting story. These are often told by the patients themselves, their relatives or caretakers and sometimes even by doctors, with the permission of the patients. Patient stories can be used in various forms, for example printed like stories, discussed in seminars or presented with pictures, as videos and documentaries.
Various painful life experiences, accidents, chronic ailments, trauma of undergoing a surgery and similar other situations cause a person to feel depressed. There is no doubt that such conditions involve plenty of physical and emotional disturbances and can create turmoil in one’s life.
Patient stories are like sharing of their own experiences and knowledge thus contributing to patient education.
How Patient Stories Help?
Patient stories are popular as they are real life situations and experiences of people who are not necessarily related to the medical team. This makes patient stories more credible and are often considered as sharing of feelings.
Patient stories serve as an important element of patient education and aid in creating health awareness. Some advantages of patient stories that help in developing patient awareness and education include
When patients listen to other patient’s stories, which narrate the experience of someone having undergone a similar situation, they are able to connect themselves with it. They develop a feeling that they are not alone and that there are many other sufferers, who are facing the ordeal with great courage and patience.
Patient stories help to develop a positive feeling in the audience that they too can fight the odds and make way for a better life in spite of their illness. Such stories have the potential to inspire a dejected patient and create a sense of responsibility.
Patient stories act as natural counselling and support for other patients. It helps to create awareness, realization and analysis of many health related factors, which are difficult to explain to the patient otherwise.
Some patients are often over anxious about their condition, forthcoming surgery or have too many questions about the prognosis of their illness. Relevant patient stories can help to calm such patients, resolve some queries and aid in making their approach more logical rather than being nervous and panicky.
Patient stories not only benefit the audience but also help in healing of the narrator patient. It is a way of releasing their emotions, piled up due to a medical condition and also brings on a normal mode of communication between the patient and the healthcare team.
Patient Stories for Patient Education
With all these and many more benefits of patient stories, they can be successfully made a part of patient education and awareness program.
When a healthcare professional gives instructions to a patient, it is often thought to be a practical methodology and a part of their job. But when patients listen or read other patient’s stories, they realize that the person is one of them and has a different outlook towards the condition. Patients understand such stories easily and the chances that they will learn from them are high.
Healthcare professionals should, hence use patient stories effectively for the purpose of patient education. They have great potential to create a change in the thoughts of other patients and they can be easily made to follow medical instructions, act rationally and be well informed and aware. This will in turn produce more co-operative and compliant patients, which any healthcare system is always in need of.
Patient stories are thought provoking, which make other patients analyse their situation, their health, lifestyle and their responsibilities towards making healthcare decisions. These stories can be truly inspirational and can motivate other patients to make healthier choices in life and be more responsive to the efforts of the healthcare team.