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Protocol for a systematic review of the use of narrative storytelling and visual-arts-based approaches as knowledge translation tools in healthcare

Shannon D Scott1*, Pamela Brett-MacLean2, Mandy Archibald1 and Lisa Hartling3

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Level 3, Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 1C9, Canada

2 Arts & Humanities in Health & Medicine Program, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta, 1-128 Katz Group Centre for Pharmacy and Health Research, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2X8, Canada

3 Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Level 4, Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 1C9, Canada

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Systematic Reviews 2013, 2:19  doi:10.1186/2046-4053-2-19

Published: 20 March 2013



The arts are powerful, accessible forms of communication that have the potential to impart knowledge by attracting interest and developing meaningful connections. Knowledge translation aims to reduce the ‘evidence-practice’ gap by developing, implementing and evaluating strategies designed to enhance awareness and promote behavior change congruent with research evidence. Increasingly, innovative approaches such as narrative storytelling and other arts-based interventions are being investigated to bridge the growing gap between practice and research. This study is the first to systematically identify and synthesize current research on narrative storytelling and visual art to translate and disseminate health research.


A health research librarian will develop and implement search strategies designed to identify relevant evidence. Studies will be included if they are primary research employing narrative storytelling and/or visual art as a knowledge translation strategy in healthcare. Two reviewers will independently perform study selection, quality assessment, and data extraction using standard forms. Disagreements will be resolved through discussion or third party adjudication. Data will be grouped and analyzed by research design, type of knowledge translation strategy (that is, a narrative or visual-arts-based approach), and target audience. An overall synthesis across all studies will be conducted.


The findings from this research project will describe the ‘state of the science’ regarding the use of narrative storytelling and visual art as knowledge translation strategies. This systematic review will provide critical information for: (1) researchers conducting knowledge translation intervention studies; (2) nursing, medicine, and allied healthcare professionals; (3) healthcare consumers, including patients and families; and (4) decision makers and knowledge users who are charged to increase use of the latest research in healthcare settings.

Knowledge translation; Narrative; Research use; Storytelling; Systematic review; Visual art