The Effectiveness of Retelling One’s Life Story to Increase Quality of Life - the Participants' Perspective

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Sabine CORSTEN, Catholic University of Allied Sciences Mainz, Germany
The efficiency of illness narratives to stimulate coping processes has been already shown in the field of narrative based medicine. In persons with aphasia, a neurological language disorder, limited efficacy data is available (e.g. Bronken et al., 2012). However, especially these persons experience reduced social participation and Quality of Life (QoL). Although life story work can support processes of sense-making, people with aphasia are mostly excluded from narrative approaches because of the impaired language abilities. Therefore, we conceptualized a modified biographic-narrative intervention targeting identity renegotiation. Quantitative data showed an improvement in QoL. To gain a deeper understanding of the approach we now look at the perspective of the participants.

The study was set in a pre- and post-test-design with a follow-up assessment three months after the intervention. Five face-to-face biographic-narrative interviews and seven group sessions were conducted over ten weeks with a sample of 27 participants with chronic but different types of aphasia.

According to our hypotheses, we found a significant and stable improvement in health-related QoL. Also self-reported states of mood, e.g. “happiness”, grew significantly. Semi-structured interviews revealed four main themes regarding identity issues: agency, control, disease concept and doing things. The results show the efficiency of the approach as a supplementary method for improving QoL associated with an enhanced sense of competence and positive self-attribution. As this intervention increased the traditional task of speech and language therapists, we have to discuss, the role of the professionals, and the patient-professional relationship. The transferability of this intervention to other patients is an open question for discussion and further research.

Bronken et al. (2012). The Aphasic Storyteller: Coconstructing Stories to Promote Psychosocial Well-Being After Stroke. Qualitative Health Research, 22(10), 1303–1316.

The current work is supported by a grant of the German Federal Ministery of Education and Research (BMBF, FKZ 17S10X11)