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What is a patient-narrative?

Narratives, written or oral can be seen as an art form. However, in everyday life we use narrative to put experiences into context. Through narratives we express our experiences and feelings so that they can be interpreted and shared with others.

The context in which the narrative is created is crucial to its content and form. The patient narrative can teach us to perceive, interpret and understand the patient’s symptoms, needs and resources – their human capacities.

A patient narrative is created through a dialogue between the patient (often together with relatives) and professionals. The dialogue can be initiated by either party, but it is the professionals’ responsibility to create the pre-conditions for and to initiate a conversation which allows for the patient’s narrative. This requires skills on the part of the professionals and must take time and may happen at more than one occasion and in connection with other activities such as assisting with meals or personal hygiene.

The focus of the narrative is the patient’s experience and interpretation of their symptoms, how these symptoms affect their daily living and what possibilities (resources) the patient has in their life. The narrative has the potential to be healing and to increase the possibilities of finding relief of symptoms.

Page Manager: Jeanette Tenggren Durkan|Last update: 1/8/2016

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