USC logoUSC Annenberg School for Communication professor and principal investigator Sheila Murphy and joint principal investigator Lourdes Baezconde-Garbinati and their colleagues may explore narratives as a method to learn and maintain information about grave issues like cancer.

The set of medical researchers, script writers, artists, physicians, psychologists, anthropologists, communication scholars and public health professionals may inspect and reinvent how health-related information is delivered.

The intention of the research is to defy the fundamental hypothesis that a conventional straightforward reading of the facts may be the best way to communicate health-related information.

Murphy commented, “Although the research will focus on breast and cervical cancer, the results have clear implications for virtually all health care communication. This research could radically change how health messages are conveyed across different ethnic groups, generations and modalities.”

Murphy specified the influence and determination of a narrative or story structure that has been known and used for decades but when it comes to crafting health messages intended to put across critical, potentially life-saving health information, western medicine apparently disregards the use of narratives. The research empirically examines whether making use of a narrative format may generate a bigger and longer lasting impact on knowledge, attitudes and prevention behavior.

The research also questions the theory of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ communication approach by analyzing whether narratives may be predominantly effective for cultures with a strong oral history, for fresh immigrants, for older generations and for populations with low literacy.

So narratives may just be a new way to improve one’s knowledge about serious health issues like cancer.